Soursop farming is rare but highly profitable. The industry is huge possibly because of the health benefits of the soursop fruit.
Soursop is an oblong tropical fruit also called graviola that has an edible white interior with rough and spiky green exterior. There are very few soursop plantations in Nigeria, hence the more reason you need to start your soursop farming in Nigeria on a commercial scale.
The soursop plant can grow as tall as 6m with lots of distinctive features that separate them from other plants. The common name is soursop but it has several other names such as; Guyabano, Brazilian pawpaw, prickly custard apple etc. It is native to America but now widely grown all over the world including Nigeria. Soursop farming is not so common in Nigeria but can be mostly noticed in Eastern Nigeria.
Soursop plants can grow up to 6m tall with many distinctive features that make them stand out from other plants. The leaves are large; dark shiny green that appears leathery, the flowers are very large too with yellow or greenish-yellow color.
Their fruits appear in a heart shape and are large with varying sizes and can grow anywhere in the trunk. Spiny (small) shapes cover the body of the fruits. And has about 100 or more black non digestible seeds inside. The pulp is very fleshy, soft and milky white in color. The juice appears almost like a yoghurt drink, with an acidic sour taste. The flesh can be eaten with bare hands. And can be used in making smoothies, candies, fruit juice, desserts etc.
Every part of the tree is medicinal and very useful to man. It is nutritious, medicinal and economical.
The tree is small in size as such can be intercropped with large trees of other economic fruit trees. Soursop can be cultivated through seeds, cuttings (marcotting), budded and grafted seedlings.
Health Benefits of Soursop to mankind
Soursop contains nutrients such as fatty acids, vitamin c, iron B1, B2, Magnesium etc.
It is an anti-aging , anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and anti-tumor. Good in; boosting immune, liver tonic, sedative and laxative.
The juice of soursop can be added to ice cream for flavor. The flavor is a mixture of strawberry and pineapple..
Soursop fruit is good for lactating mothers because it increases breast milk.
It helps in cooling down feverish conditions.
Prevents heart problems, hypertension, palpitation, menstrual disorder and difficulty in child-birth. But shouldn’t be taken during pregnancy as it can stimulate the uterine.
All these further shows the importance of the soursop farming business.
11 Steps involved in starting soursop farming
Preparation of land for the Soursop farming
Clear the land and remove all the unwanted trees, shrubs and grasses, heap them in one place so that it can be used for mulching or compost. For a large expanse of land, plough twice if necessary for a deep planting, harrow once. Till the soil for easy movement of root and water. Soursop grows in well-drained sandy-loam soil; with an acidic PH of about 5.0-6.5.
Sorting out for the best seedling for the Soursop farming
Use variety that produces big fruits. I will advise you to go for a hybrid soursop. It can resist pests and diseases, mature faster (3years), produce big and plenty of fruits etc. Buy
the seeds from established seed companies. There are two varieties; the sweet soursop which is mostly for eating and the sour variety which is for processing.
Planting the Soursop
Prepare a nursery bed and sow the seeds in a depth of 1cm and 2cm-3cm spacing apart. Within the first 25-30 days of planting, you need to mulch and water the bed often to ease the germination of the soursop seeds. Once the first sets of leaves are matured, you can then transfer to the permanent site.
It is very important that you shade or mulch the seedlings because soursop grows well in humid and warm conditions. Before planting your soursop seedlings, you need to prepare the planting layout. This will enable you to know the number of seedlings to be planted in such an amount of space. Soursop farming is a very profitable business, but first you need to get the process right and in order.
Pruning of the Soursop Farming
Prune soursop the same way it is done to hibiscus, cocoa plants etc. It will allow free movement of air in the farm, good light penetration, straight and neat branches etc. Make sure you remove twigs and water sprouts; diseased and decayed branches.
Intercrop with crops that can be harvested fast or within a year example; cassava, vegetables; maize etc. It will help in suppressing weeds as well as provide capital when sold for the maintenance of soursop plantation until harvest. After 3 years, plant perennial trees such as plantain, orange, mango etc.
Application of fertilizer to the Soursop farming business
For a good yield, there is the need to apply fertilizer to the crops. You can make use of organic fertilizer like compost or animal dung. Good ratio of NPK like 10:10:10 can be applied quarterly on the farm to improve growth and development of soursop. In order for you to achieve maximum and rapid growth, you can apply potash (muriate, 0:0:60). This helps to supply micronutrients to the soil rapid growth of your soursop plants.
Control of pests and diseases in the Soursop farming business
Common pests that affect soursop include root grubs, oriental fruit fly, mealy bugs, carpenter moth larva, etc. the diseases of soursop are root rot, anthracnose, pink disease, etc. You will need the use of pesticides or neem oil for the treatment of these diseases.
Although soursop can withstand adverse and harsh weather conditions, irrigation brings about healthy growth. Once it is time for the flowering stage, you can suspend the watering activity as dry conditions are necessary for the plants to start flowering at the same time. You need to watch it at this point as extended drought can lead to the dropping of the leaves.
Use compost to mulch soursop plantation. This will help in moisture conservation.
Don’t leave the crops to compete with weeds because it will result in stunted growth and unhealthy plants. Weed twice or thrice a year with machines or manually by the use of hoe or cutlass. You can pay a good number of laborers to do the weeding.
Harvesting of your Soursop
Soursop starts flowering after 3 years and fruits the same year; it continues fruiting every other year in great numbers. The fruits should be harvested when they are fully developed and greenish in nature. Leave it for about 2-4 days to ripen. A tree soursop can yield between 60-70 fruits in a year. Their peak period is between May-June but the fruit is all year round. When soursop is matured for harvest, the spines set themselves far apart and the shiny green color becomes dull or yellowish-green.
Marketing of Soursop Farming:
Supply to market men and women who are eagerly waiting for the fruits. Locate companies such as ice cream and beverages that make use of them.