Q: I have a question about when to pick cherimoya fruit. My cherimoya and atemoya flower during early summer and throughout summer. I typically pick the fruit in March. Is this the right timing? Also, during the winter the fruit some times cracks or turns black in areas. Is this due to the cold weather? How can I prevent this?
Sam West Colvina, CA
A: Typically the cherimoya blooming period begins May and continues until as late as October with the best months to hand pollinate between June and August. You can extend the harvest considerably by hand pollinating the blooms over a few months.
The fruit has its peak harvest throughout winter and into early spring. The cracking is thought to be the result of inconsistent watering practices, often-times appearing after heavy rains. The interior pulp expands after absorbing the excessive water and the thin cold skin does not have enough elasticity to compensate thereby resulting in cracks appearing soon thereafter.
The black color can be either a mold on the exposed flesh of cracked fruit due to the higher humidity during the rainy season or simply the result of cold damage causing the dark areas on the skin. Some varieties are more susceptible to this damage than others. Since you did not mention the name of your variety I can only guess that it is not genetic and simply a result of unfavorable climate and/or insufficient fertilizing.