From the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia, inc.
by Christine Gray


Seasons in Australia are opposite to those in the US.  Summer is Dec. Jan. Feb. Autumn is Mar. Apr. May. Winter is June July Aug. Spring is Sept. Oct. Nov.

A Local Experience with the Abiu

Scientific name: Pouteria caimito
Family: Sapotaceae
    
It was August 1978 when Don and I proudly purchased our Abiu seedling, a native of Brazil, from Avondale Nursery. We made it a habit of collecting all the new fruit trees that were new to the country, as we were determined to "have a go" at growing them.

By growing these new fruit trees, we envisaged picking fruit from our garden all year round. Our land is in the tropics at Julatten, 1200 ft above sea level, and the coldest winter we have had, the temperature was 3 degrees C on the grass.
I must say we are happily picking fruit from some of our trees already. To our delight, the abiu has been a great success.

We chose a well-drained sunny spot on our creek flat for the abiu tree. The flat has excellent loamy soil. The spot where we planted the abiu had just been cleared of lantana, milky bean and brush. A small hole was dug and the abiu was planted with no application of any fertilizer, only given a light watering.

It was not till later, as the tree grew, that we gave it light applications of chicken manure and meat and bone meal. All the time being careful to keep the manure about 1 ft or so away from the base of the tree. Also, we are a great believer in trace elements and a match box full was sprinkled around the tree from 18" to 10 ft from the base.

The abiu tree grew reasonably fast. It reached a height of around 8 feet in September, 1980, and we noticed its first white flowers, which appeared on the branches inside the foliage. At the same time, we also noticed that the leaves were showing streaks of yellow.

We experimented by spraying the leaves with zinc sulphate, 1 gram (about level teaspoons) to 1 litre of water. In almost two weeks the tree lost the yellow in its leaves and bright new green growth appeared. Some small fruit appeared on the branches, but in November 1980, they all fell off. Perhaps it was because the tree was too young to hold the fruit.

The abiu tree flowered again in Jan, Feb, and March 1981, and there was a scant flowering in April and May. This time, eight fruit remained on the tree.

We picked the first fruit in June, 1981 and to our surprise these fruit were seedless, but we found the fruit were not mature even though they were a bright yellow, as latex adhered to the lips when we ate the fruit. We decided to take more notice of the next fruit and record from when the fruit turned yellow to maturity. I did this, recorded the date the fruit turned yellow, 4/7/81, and then covered the fruit with a paper bag. I then recorded the date the fruit fell off the tree into the paper bag which was 18/9/81. This took 8 weeks from turning yellow to maturity. During this time the fruit increased in size. When we cut the fruit this time, there was no latex and the flavour was excellent. In September, 1981, we sprayed the tree again with zinc sulphate.


Very small buds appeared again in October, 1981, the flowers opening in November, 1981, small fruit appeared December, 1981. More flowers again in Jan,1982 and also February and a lot of small fruit set on the branches.
The abiu tree is now 16ft high and a width of 10ft. This time 230 fruit held on the tree. Before that, lots of fruit had fallen off, as it was too much for the tree. We have only this single tree flowering, so it does not need others for cross pollination.

The fruit turned yellow on Feb 6, 1982 and we started to pick the fruit on March 14th, 1982. Of the 230 fruit, about 100 were seedless, the rest of the fruit having only one seed, with an exception of two fruit having two seeds. The biggest fruit weighed 1lb 10oz with a 15-inch circumference North-South, and a 14-inch circumference East-West. There were a few small fruit, but most weighed from 1lb to 1lb 6oz.

We gave the fruit to lots of people for tasting. Everyone loved the flavour. The remarks describing the flavour were, "like homemade ice cream", "caramel", "toffee", "young coconut, but sweet", "Nectar".

Well, all we can say is that they are delicious. I love putting the abiu in the fridge, then cutting them in half and spooning out the smooth, white, juicy flesh from the perfectly round bright-yellow-skinned fruit.

The only problem we have found with the abiu fruit was, as the latex left the fruit as they matured on the tree, the fruit fly attacked them. We managed to save a few from fruit fly attack by covering the fruit with paper bags. Next fruiting, I will cover the fruit with bags as soon as they turn yellow and also hang dac * pots in the tree.

Don has successfully marcotted this tree. Marcots were put on in Dec and Jan, 1981, roots appeared March, 1981 and cut off and potted in April, 1981. We are still experimenting with marcots, and are putting them on at different intervals during the year.

We think this could be a good commercial fresh fruit, if the fruit fly problem can be overcome, as the fruit keeps well, especially if picked a little early before maturity, as the fruit is very firm at this stage and it still has excellent flavour. The only problem is the latex, but that can be overcome by spooning out the flesh.

The tree itself is very attractive and will be an excellent back yard fruit tree.


* Dac pots are containers holding a mixture of 100 mls wine, 1 cup sugar, 1 litre water. When hung in trees, they attract fruit fly (Dacus) and they drown themselves.



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 Abiu Page



Bibliography

Gray, Christine. "A Local Experience with the Abiu." rfcarchives.org.au. Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia. July 1982. Web. 9 Mar. 2016.

Published 9 Mar. 2016 LR
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