“Programming” to harvest custard apples as expected

Update: 14:16 | 06/06/2018

(BGO) – With their experience, ceaseless learning and creativeness, farmers in Huyen Son commune, Luc Nam district, Bac Giang province have created differences in growing custard apples which are popular in many Vietnamese rural areas. Custard apple trees in local orchards are not higher than a man’s head but they are fruitful, bringing a great source of income to local people. 

Bac Giang province, custard apples, ceaseless learning, Vietnamese rural areas, local orchards, custard apple flowers, pollination process, agricultural engineers, right growing techniques

Tran Van Hoa (middle) from Gieng Giang village, Huyen Son commune examines his custard apple orchard.

For recent few days, Tran Van Hoa and his wife in Gieng Giang village have got up early to pollinate custard apple flowers. Pollination tools are quite simple. Hoa uses straws of Vinamilk bottles and small bamboo sticks as “cylinders”. “The pollination process is not too complex. It only requires patience and meticulousness of farmers,” he said.

The best time for pollination is the early morning with high humidity, cool weather and abundant pollen. Custard apple flowers are bisexual, so there are no independent male or female flowers. Therefore, farmers can collect pollen of a flower to pollinate others. 

Hoa said the pollination work was much harder a few years ago when farmers had to hire laborers to work at night. At that time, local families tried to pollinate all flowers within several days. As a result, custard apples ripened at the same time, putting time pressure on custard apple growers.

However, the situation is different now as local farmers do not pollinate at the same time but do the process for one month, helping reduce the hardships and prevent custard apples from ripening concurrently.

Hoa’s family has about 500 custard apple trees aged from 30-40 years. He and his wife have been dubbed as agricultural engineers as they master custard apple growing techniques. With a price of 20,000 VND - 24,000 VND (0.88 USD-1.06 USD) per kg of custard apples, his family earned about 300 million VND (13,200 USD) in revenue and 200 million VND (8,800 USD) in net profit during the previous crop. His family is expected to pocket a similar amount of money in this year’s crop.

With their love for custard apple orchards, farmers in Huyen Son commune have changed the growing methods to have fruits as they expect. Custard apples now appear from both trunks and branches. In other localities, custard apples are often harvested within the seventh lunar month. However, those in Huyen Son commune are harvested from the sixth to the 11th month in the lunar calendar.

When we visited the luxuriant custard apple orchard of Bui Van Quang’s family in Khuyen village, we were impressed by lines of custard apple trees grown on the side of Gom Mountain where locals used to practice the art of pottery making. Each stump is covered by grey stones which are used to protect custard apple trees from strong winds. If the stump is not firm enough, the tree may die or yield no fruits. All branches of the custard apple trees became heavy with cup-size fruits. Flowers were also blooming on trunks.

“We are pollinating for the second batch of custard apples on trunks. The fruits will be bigger and more beautiful, and have better quality than those born from branches,” Quang said.

Bac Giang province, custard apples, ceaseless learning, Vietnamese rural areas, local orchards, custard apple flowers, pollination process, agricultural engineers, right growing techniques

Bui Van Quang from Khuyen village, Huyen Son commune is pollinating custard apple flowers on trunks for the second batch of fruits.

Custard apples in Luc Nam in general and Huyen Son, in particular, have been favored for their quality in recent years. Thanks to favorable soil conditions in the region, custard apples grown around Gom Mountain in Huyen Son commune have a special taste. They, therefore, have been sold at higher prices than those cultivated in adjacent localities.

Bui Van Vinh, Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee of Huyen Son commune, said the commune has about 105 hectares of custard apple trees which are expected to turn out about 1,700 tonnes of fruits valued at 47 billion VND - 50 billion VND (2.06 million USD – 2.2 million USD) this year.

To maximize values of the fruit, the Party Committee and People’s Committee of Huyen Son commune has instructed owners of custard apple orchards to follow right growing techniques, ensuring quality and food safety and hygiene.

Do Thanh Nam

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