Plant Clinic

Color changes indicate ripeness of sugar apple

Q. I have had a sugar apple tree for about 3 or 4 years. How can you tell when the fruit are ripe? Any fertilization tips for this fruit tree?

K.G., Davie

Look for color changes on the fruit rind. Between the segments, it should start to turn white, yellow or red, depending on the variety. An easier way to tell is to squeeze it gently. When it gets a little soft (“gives a little”), pick it and let it ripen on your kitchen counter. It will be soft when fully ripe. If the fruit are allowed to ripen on the tree, they tend to split or fall apart but are still edible.

Several varieties are available, including Thai Lessard (a green type), Purple or Red, Kampong Mauve (purplish-red ), and a seedless type known under various names, Cuban Seedless and Brazilian Seedless. However, the seedless fruit split when nearing maturity, and the fruit quality and yield is said to be sparser than seedy types. Green or red type sugar apple trees are recommended for the home landscape.

The trees may bloom from March through May, and fruit are harvested from mid-summer through fall. Fruit may be available through midwinter if no frost occurs and leaves remain on the trees. The crop yield of sugar apple varies from year to year and is influenced by climate, presence or absence of natural pollinators, diseases, and how the plant is cared for. Sugar apple yields may range from 20 to 50 fruit (10 to 50 lbs.) per tree.

You can fertilize with a fruit tree fertilizer such as 8-3-9, or use 6-1-8, 8-2-12 palm fertilizer or something similar. Apply the granular fertilizer two to four times a year during the growing season.

Fruit trees also are benefited by a nutritional (citrus or micro-element) spray two to four times a year. For more information on growing sugar apples (annonas), read this fact sheet:

Adrian Hunsberger is an entomologist/horticulturist with the UF/IFAS Miami-Dade Extension office. Write to Plant Clinic, 18710 SW 288th St., Homestead, FL 33030; e-mail

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