Simons & Arroyo – La Manzana Malaya, 1942

Julio S. Simons & Arroyo R. La Manzana Malaya (Jambosa Malaccensis). Revista de agricultura de Puerto Rico, Volume 34 (1942), page 51-53

La Manzana Malaya (Jambosa Malaccensis)
Agrónomo a/c Propagación de Plantas, y Jefe de la División de Quimica,
respectivamente, de la Estación Experirnental Agrícola de la Universidad de Puerto Rico.

This fruit has never been commercially planted in Puerto Rico, and so far it has been granted commercial value, only for the use of the tree as a windbreaker or as an ornamental. Therefore the data and observations on production have been taken from trees planted and developed for that objective and under conditions that do not correspond to fruit tree plantation. However, in the estimates of production we have been very conservative and they, of course, refer to adult trees in full production.

We believe we have found real value for this fruit in the production of wines, and it is for this reason that we present the Malaya Apple before the attention of the public in general and of our farmers and industrialists in particular.

We have decided to make this presentation in two articles; the first related to botanical and agricultural data, and the second related to the industrialization of fruit.

Malay Apple (Jumbosa malaccensis) is a tropical fruit native to Asia, and indigenous to Malaya. Botanically it belongs to the family Myrtaceae, genus Eugenia or Jambosa, which includes a large number of species of varied fruit trees and shrubs scattered throughout the tropical and subtropical world; many of them in the western hemisphere and common in South and Central America and the Antilles.

The tree is one of medium development, rapid growth, erect, columnar, reaching a height of 25 to 30 feet; lateral development with a radial expansion of 8 to 12 feet in adulthood. It is very well formed, with regular contours, leafy, with great vegetative vigor, and with an ornamental aspect. The fruit is pear-shaped, two to three inches long and one and a half to two in diameter; external color when ripe is apple red, very thin skin and not very resistant; pulp white, soft, succulent, with a refreshing but insipid flavor, often sub-acid or slightly sweet. It contains a single large seed, round in shape, one inch in diameter, and occupying most of the base of the fruit.

This fruit grows in Puerto Rico for many years, although not extensively due to its supposed lack of economic value. In addition to Malay Apple, it is commonly known as “pomarrosa americana”. We do not have information on the date of its original introduction, but we know that this fruit has been known for more than 50 years, possibly introduced from the Lesser Antilles, where it is reported that it was naturalized as early as the middle of the eighteenth century. However, it can not be said that this tree has grown or been planted extensively in Puerto Rico. Towards 1924 a new introduction of this tree was made and distributed by the Campus for Propagation of Plants, stimulating its planting with ornamentals and windbreakers for orchards.

This tree adapts to a wide variety of soils being undemanding in this respect. We have seen it grow and develop very satisfactorily in soils of various types, from sandy to heavy clay. It tolerates slightly acid soils, but does not like very alkaline soils. It grows well at any height from the coast up to two thousand feet and prefers rather humid environments; not thriving in swampy or stagnant water. Regions with a normal rainfall of sixty inches or more, with good drainage are the most adaptable for plantings of this fruit.

The propagation of this fruit is made by seeds, by cuttings or by grafts, the first two means being the most common. Propagation by seed is the most commonly used and experience has shown that the fruit reproduces fairly faithfully by this means. To obtain seeds, mature fruits of the most developed, superior type, and with the greatest thickness of pulp are chosen. The pulp is removed, and the seed is put to aerate, protected from the sun, in preparation for planting seedbeds or storehouses. When planting, cover with not more than one and a half inches of soil.

For the preparation of cuttings for planting, use wood from mature branches of only one previous growing season, preferably defoliating it in the tree before being cut. It can be put to form callus in moss or sand prior to planting, or planted immediately in the seedbeds prepared for that object. [SOS, not to sure of this paragraph.]

The preparation of the land for seedbeds or nurseries is the same and has the same requirements as for any other fruit tree. The essential thing is to provide the new plants with a loose soil, well fertilized, with good drainage and where they have ideal conditions for growth and development under special care. The seeds will germinate within two or four weeks. Well taken care of, the plants will develop quickly in the store, and eight months later they will be in planting conditions for the field. When the propagation has been by cuttings it will take a little less to develop, and in four to six weeks the seedlings will be able to be planted in plantation. When facilities are available for this, this means of propagation is preferable, since it lightens production.

Planting in the field is done at distances of 20 by 20 feet, in holes prepared for the object whose size should not be less than 1 X 1½ X 1½ feet, filled with good soil and adding a good amount of organic matter (manure). The general preparation of the land is the same as for any other fruit orchard. If you want to economize the cost of seedling or nursery seed can be planted (although this is not the most advisable) directly in the holes after having been filled with good surface soil mixed with well-cured manure. Place three or four seeds in each hole and germination will then be culled to leave only the plant with the best and most vigorous development. The culled plants are used for subsequent plantings.

The plantations in development do not need more care than the occasional weeding, protecting the trees from the competition of
bad grasses and other competing plants, and periodic applications of manure and fertilizer that will stimulate its faster development. Three or four years after the transplant, the trees will start to flower and produce fruit. The preliminary observations made in relation to the flowering habit cover 40 to 60 days. Since it begins to open flowers until it begins to mature fruits, under normal conditions, an almost fixed period of 60 days passes. The most abundant productions of fruits come from the blooms of spring and autumn.

Once fructification has started, it progresses rapidly. Although the tree does not ripen all its fruit at once, the time taken to mature the whole harvest is relatively short. Once ripe the fruit is retained by the tree very little time, detaching itself from the branch promptly. In this state the fruit lasts very briefly and deteriorates rapidly.

The Malaya apple tree is prolific and its normal production within the conditions in which it has been planted and grown is considered very satisfactory. Productions of up to 187.5 pounds of ripe fruit have been recorded for a tree as the highest under the planting conditions already explained. The lowest tree production was 48 pounds. It is estimated that a plantation of this fruit well planted and with satisfactory cultivation would produce 5.5 to 7.5 tons or more of fruits per cuerda. [not sure if cuerda should be season or orchard.]

Although its appearance, shape and color this is a very attractive fruit, its taste somewhat insipid makes it very undesirable to be used as fresh fruit. We believe this fruit susceptible to be improved especially in the following aspects:

1. Increase the amount of pulp in relation to the seed.
2. Increase the sugar content in the pulp.
3. Improve their conservation qualities.

These improvements, together with the development of harvesting methods aimed at its best use, would greatly increase its commercial and industrial value. We believe that by developing commercial value for the Malaya Apple we have taken a step of incalculable importance for this fruit, since its easy propagation and cultivation, and its adaptability to our environment will be a stimulus for the industry or industries derived from it.

Our second article will deal with the industrialization of this fruit.

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