Effects of drought on fruit set, yield and quality of custard apple (Annona spp. hybrid) 'African Pride' plants
George, AP and Nissen, RJ, Effects of drought on fruit set, yield and quality of custard apple (Annona spp. hybrid) 'African Pride' plants, Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology, 77, (4) pp. 418-427. ISSN 1462-0316 (2002) [Refereed Article]
Studies were conducted to evaluate the effects of drought during flowering for both container- and field-grown trees, and during fruit development for container-grown trees, on subsequent growth, flowering, yield and quality of the custard apple ‘African Pride’ in subtropical Australia. Moderate drought (ψL = –1.5 MPa) reduced shoot growth by 20–30% and increased the number of flowers per lateral by about 40% compared with well-watered controls due to reduced apical dominance and increased lateral branching. Overall fruit set was not adversely affected by drought. Drought also increased the number of fruit harvested per tree by 47% compared with well-watered controls. This response was mainly due to the increase in flower number per tree. Drought reduced average fruit size by 11% possibly due to effects on cell division in the first 4–6 weeks after fruit set or on net carbon assimilation. In summary, mild to moderate drought during the flowering period and fruit set increased flowering without adversely affecting fruit set, but decreased fruit size.