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World demand is strong. In North America and Japan, people pay more for cherimoya than for almost any other fruit on the market. At present, premium cherimoyas (which can weigh up to 1 kg each) are selling for up to $20 per kg in the United States and more than $40 per kg in Japan. Despite such enormous prices, sales are expanding. In four years, the main U.S. supplier's weekly sales have increased from less than 50 kg a week to more than 5,000 kg a week.

Today, the crop is far from reaching its potential peak. Modern research is only now being applied—and in only a few places, principally Chile, Argentina, Spain, the Canary Islands, and California. Nonetheless, even limited research has produced a handful of improved cultivars that produce fruit of good market size (300–600 g), smooth skin, round shape, good flavor, juiciness, low seed ratio, resistance to bruising, and good storage qualities. With these attributes, larger future production and expanded trade seem inevitable.

But growing cherimoyas for commercial consumption is a daunting horticultural challenge. In order to produce large, uniform fruit with an unbroken skin and a large proportion of pulp, the grower must attend his trees constantly from planting to harvest; each tree must be pruned, propped, and—at least in some countries—each flower must be pollinated by hand.

Nevertheless, the expanding markets made possible by new cultivars and greater world interest in exotic produce now justify the work necessary to produce quality cherimoya fruits on a large scale. Eventually, production could become a fair-sized industry in several dozen countries.

PROSPECTS

The Andes. Although cherimoyas are found in markets throughout the Andean region, there has been little organized evaluation of the different types, the horticultural methods used, or the problems growers encounter. Given such attention, as well as improved quality control, the cherimoya could become a much bigger cash crop for rural villages. With suitable packaging increasingly available, a large and lucrative trade with even distant cities seems likely. Moreover, increased production will allow processed products—such as cherimoya concentrate for flavoring ice cream—to be produced both for local consumption and for export.

Other Developing Areas. Everywhere these fruits are grown, they are immediately accepted as delicacies. Thus, the cherimoya promises to become a major commercial crop for many subtropical



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