AbstractThe performance of acerola (Malpighia punicifolia L.) was studied for 7 years at Castañer, located in the centre of the Coffee Region of Puerto Rico. The acerola plants were raised from seed of clone B-17. They were planted in the field in an Alonso clay soil with a pH of about 5.0. To avoid soil erosion the planting was not cultivated. However, the other cultural practices such as cutting of weeds, application of fertilizer, and so on were properly attended. The acerola trees showed great variability as to height, diameter of canopy, number and thickness of scaffold limbs, length of primary lateral branches, and number of spurs. The acerola trees started bearing well when about 3 years old. The crop was harvested from April to November, with peak production in August. The acerola trees showed great variability as to fruit yield. Over a 3-year period their average annual fruit yield varied from 205.2 to 481.1 ounces. The trees also showed great variability as to the average diameter and weight of their fruits. However, the diameter and weight of fruits harvested from the same tree on different dates did not vary much. The acerola trees displayed great variability as to vitamin C contents of their fruits. Fully ripe fruits generally had lower vitamin C contents than the partly ripe fruits from the same tree. The acerola fruits were utilized for preparing juice and jelly on a home scale. Many persons liked to eat fruits fresh, especially those of large size and lower acidity. There was no serious incidence of diseases and insect pests in the acerola planting. The present study indicates that acerola can be commercially grown in the Coffee Region of Puerto Rico, provided the fruits can be sold to some canning or other processing concern.
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