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Cherimoya (Atemoya & Sweetsop)

Recommendations for Maintaining Postharvest Quality

Cherimoya, Chirimoya, Cherimoya

Adel A. Kader1 and Mary Lu Arpaia2

1Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis

2Dept. of Botany and Plant Sciences, Univ. of California, Riverside

Maturity & Quality
Maturity Indices

Change in skin color from dark-green to light-green or greenish-yellow is the primary maturity index for cherimoya (Annona cherimola), atemoya (Annona cherimoya X A. squamosa), sweetsop (Annona squamosa), and custard apple (Annona reticulata). Other indicators include appearance of cream color between segments on the skin and increased surface smoothness of the separate fruit carpels.

Quality Indices
  • Fruit size, color, absence of defects and decay, firmness (annona fruits are relatively soft fruits and must be handled with care to minimize bruising)
  • Cherimoya, atemoya and sweetsop have high concentrations of sugars (14-15% when ripe) and moderate acidity (0.4-0.7% when ripe). They are good sources of vitamin C (45-60mg/100g) and potassium (250-500mg/100g edible portion)

Maturity & Quality Photos

Title: Quality

Photo Credit: Adel Kader, UC Davis

Temperature & Controlled Atmosphere
Optimum Temperature

8-12°C (46-54°F) depending on cultivar, ripeness stage, and duration.

Optimum Relative Humidity


Rates of Respiration
Temperature 10°C (50°F) 15°C (59°F) 20°C (68°F)
ml CO2/kg·hr 25-100 45-150 75-250

To calculate heat production multiply ml CO2/kg·hr by 440 to get Btu/ton/day or by 122 to get kcal/metric ton/day.

Rates of Ethylene Production

Annona fruits are climacteric fruits. High levels of ethylene (up to 100-300 µl /kg·hr, depending on cultivar) are produced during ripening at 20°C (68°F).

Responses to Ethylene

Exposure to ethylene (100ppm for 1-2 days) accelerates ripening of mature-green cherimoya and other annona fruits; they can ripen in about 5 days if kept at 15°C (59°F) to 20°C (68°F).

Ethylene removal can be helpful in retarding ripening of mature-green fruits.

Responses to Controlled Atmospheres (CA)
  • The optimum CA storage atmospheres range from 3-5% O2 and 5-10% CO2 Benefits include delayed ripening, lower respiration and ethylene production rates, and firmness retention
  • Cherimoyas can be kept for up to 6 weeks at 10°C (50°F) in 5% O2, then ripened with good flavor at 20°C (68°F)
  • Exposure to<1% O2 and/or >15% CO2 can result in development of off-flavors and uneven ripening
Physiological and Physical Disorders

Chilling injury. Exposure of annona fruits to temperatures below 8-12°C (46-54°F), depending on cultivar and ripeness stage, results in chilling injury. Symptoms include darkening and hardening of skin, pitting, failure to develop full flavor, and mealy flesh.

Splitting. In some cultivars fruit splitting occurs with advanced ripening stages and increased ethylene production rates. It has been suggested that turgor changes related to production of neutral sugars during ripening lead to movement of water from the skin and possibly receptacle to the flesh. The increase in receptacle diameter increased the stress on the flesh and skin leading to fruit splitting.

Pathological Disorders

Anthracnose. Caused by Colletotrichum gloeosporioides and appears as dark lesions and may produce pink spore-masses under high humidity conditions.

Black Canker. Caused by Phomopsis anonacearum and appears as purple spots on the fruit, which become hard and cracked followed by development of small black bodies containing spores.

Botryodiplodia rot. Caused by Botryodiplodia theobromae and appears first purple, later pimpled with black pycnidia. The flesh becomes brown and corky.

Control Strategies

Control measures include good orchard sanitation to minimize sources of fungal spores, preharvest application of fungicides, careful handling to reduce physical damage, prompt cooling to 10°C (50°F), and subsequent maintenance of optimum temperature and relative humidity during marketing.


February 1999

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Except for these specified uses, no part of the textual materials available on the UC Postharvest Technology Center Web site may be copied, downloaded, stored in a retrieval system, further transmitted or otherwise reproduced, stored, disseminated, transferred or used, in any form or by any means, except as permitted herein or with the University of California's prior written agreement. Request permission from UC Postharvest Technology Center. Distribution for commercial purposes is prohibited.

The information in this fact sheet represents our best understanding of the current state of knowledge at the time of the latest update, and does not represent an exhaustive review of all research results. Links to any of these UC Postharvest Technology Center pages are permitted, but no endorsement of the linking site or products mentioned in the linking page is intended or implied by such a link.

How to Cite

Author(s) names. Initial publication or update date (located at the top). Title. Link to the specific Produce Fact Sheet webpage (Accessed date)

Example: Cantwell, M. and T. Suslow. 2002. Lettuce, Crisphead: Recommendations for Maintaining Postharvest Quality. (Accessed January 18, 2014).

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