Originally called Chirimuya by the people who lived where it was growing in the Andes of South America, Annona cherimola is an edible fruit (Cherimoya) bearing species of the genus Annona from the family Annonaceae is now widely cultivated mostly for its sweet fruits that share the name Custard-apple with others in its family.
DOP Chirimoya de la Costa tropical de Granada-Malaga
Cherimoya fruit (Annona Cherimola Mill.), skin type Impressa, from the local variety ‘Fino de Jete’, intended to be consumed fresh. The product obtains its characteristics from the specific qualities of the ‘Fino de Jete’ variety and the influence of the geographical environment of Costa Tropical de Granada-Málaga:
- the skin of the fruit is formed of scales, which, at the optimum time for harvesting, are smooth or slightly concave at the edges. The fruit is round, oval, heart-shaped or kidney-shaped, and tends to be symmetrical along the peduncular axis
- at the optimum time for harvesting, the fruit is light green in colour
- the skin is relatively thick
- the seeds are enclosed in the carpels and so do not detach easily
- the flavour balances intense sweetness with slight acidity
- at the time of harvest, the flesh is white or ivory white in colour
In terms of class and tolerances, the requirements set out in the Quality Standard for cherimoyas are respected. Only cherimoyas classed as ‘Extra’ and ‘I’ will be protected by the designation of origin.
Cherimoya protected by the ‘Chirimoya de la Costa Tropical de Granada-Málaga’ Designation of Origin are grown, prepared and packed in the district of the same name, made up of the following municipalities:
- In the Province of Granada: Motril, Vélez de Benaudalla, Los Guájares, Molvízar, Salobreña, Itrabo, Otívar, Lentejí, Jete and Almuñécar
- In the Province of Málaga: Nerja, Frigiliana, Torrox, Algarrobo and Vélez-Málaga
The cherimoya is prepared and packed in the geographical area because it is a very delicate, perishable fruit and its skin is very susceptible to browning caused by mechanical damage, such as rubbing, knocks, etc. The fruit must be handled with extreme care, from picking by hand in the field to packing in the warehouse, which must be carried out within 24 hours. Repacking or further handling is strictly forbidden.
Proof of origin
There are a number of basic elements that guarantee the origin and quality of the product. These are as follows:
- Cherimoyas of the authorised variety are grown on registered plantations located within the production area.
- Cultivation practices on the registered plantations are those set out in the specification and will be monitored to guarantee that they are followed.
- The product is transported to and stored in registered fruit and vegetable centres located within the production area under conditions guaranteeing optimum conservation of the fruit.
- Cherimoya preparation, packing, presentation, shipment and storage are supervised by the Regulatory Council.
- Physico-chemical and organoleptic analyses are carried out at regular intervals to guarantee the quality of the fruit.
- Only cherimoyas that have successfully passed all the checks throughout the production process are packed and placed on the market bearing the numbered secondary label issued by the Regulatory Council guaranteeing their origin. The Regulatory Council issues the marketing undertaking with a
number of secondary labels based on the product delivered by the grower to the corresponding centre at which the certified product is prepared and packed and the number of items of packaging.
Method of production
Cultivation of cherimoya begins, as with that of any fruit tree, with planting. For this, a grafted plant is used. The grafted plant material is the variety traditionally planted in the area, i.e. ‘Fino de Jete’. The usual planting density in the area varies between 160 and 200 trees per hectare. For the first three to four years of the tree’s life, shape pruning is carried out. Once the plant begins producing (from the fifth year), spur pruning is carried out, and it is this that determines the tree’s yield. Ideally, pruning should be carried out at the end of the winter.
Pollination by hand is used to supplement natural pollination in those areas of the Costa Tropical de Granada-Málaga where natural pollination is either irregular or deficient. Although the cherimoya tree is difficult to fertilise, it does, on the other hand, have the advantage of being pest resistant.
The main pest of the cherimoya tree is the Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis Capitata Wied). Less frequently, the trees are attacked by scale insects (Cocus hesperidium and Pseudococus citri). Approved insecticides are used to control these pests. The tree frequently suffers from rot of the collar and the main roots, caused principally by Armillaria mellea and Rosellina necatrix as a consequence of excess moisture at the foot of the tree. It is usually recommended to uncover the neck and main roots of the tree, scrape away the rot down to healthy wood and then disinfect with an approved fungicide.
At the beginning of spring, the cherimoya field is usually ploughed to a depth of around 15 centimetres. The amount of fertiliser used depends on a series of factors, such as the fertility of the soil, the irrigation system, the rootstock, the age of the tree and particularly the expected harvest. Two very different systems of irrigation are used in the area depending on whether the plantation is on a hillside (localised irrigation) or on the valley floor (flood irrigation).
The fruit is picked entirely by hand. Once harvested, the handling and transport of the cherimoya to the preparation and packing centres is carried out with great care so as to preserve the characteristics of the product. On delivery to a registered preparation and packing centre, the cherimoya fruit is graded. The fruit must be handled with extreme care, from picking in the field to packing in the warehouse, which must be carried out within 24 hours. Repacking or further handling is strictly forbidden.
The ‘Fino de Jete’ variety is the product of the assisted natural selection of a species brought from America in the 18th century. Today, it is grown exclusively in the Costa Tropical de Granada-Málaga. Among the reasons why it was selected by the area’s farmers are: the tree’s high and reliable yield over the years, due in large part to its being biologically perfectly adapted to the environment, and the pale green colour of the skin of the fruit, in part due to the cultivation techniques used, a high planting density, the pruning techniques employed and the steep and craggy terrain of the intertropical valleys, which give the fruit maximum protection from the sun.
In addition, the skin of impressed scales (Impressa type), thicker than that of other varieties, facilitates handling and transport by making the fruit less susceptible to mechanical damage. As regards the fruit’s organoleptic properties, it has a balance of sweetness and slight acidity, influenced by the weather conditions of the area, in which fruits ripen in summer when temperatures are at their highest, producing higher levels of soluble sugars. This is because the area lies in a temperate zone, unlike the world’s main production areas lying near to the tropics and, in some cases, close to the equator, in which fruit ripens throughout the year.
All these characteristics make the ‘Fino de Jete’ variety an ecotype that is perfectly adapted to the particular subtropical conditions of the production area of this designation of origin.