Friday, 30 September 2016

Jackfruit… So Close Yet So Far

Our Sydney jackfruit season has come and gone. We have waited patiently and expectantly for the ripening of the delicious fruit since the appearance of first little fruit back in January. They developed very well through summer and autumn, with some specimens reaching a weight of 3 kilograms or more. During the autumn, a number of different forms of covering were trialled as a winter protection for the young jackfruits.

Then, in June, the tree suffered a minor setback. One of the main limbs crashed to the ground under the weight of burgeoning and ripening fruit. The fruit was left on the fallen limb. Some began to rot. Others were picked in early August, only to discover that they were not quite ready. These arils were cooked in a jackfruit curry and the seeds were retained for boiling.

So, what happened with the fruit which remained on the other, sturdy limbs of the tree. With an anticipated maturation time of around eight months in our cooler climate, we guessed that the fruit should feasibly ripen in September.

Our calculations were correct! However…

One could describe one’s reaction to our first crop of jackfruits as, ‘So close yet so far’. That’s right. In essence, our crop failed. Our fruit held on the tree until September. Some fruit dropped from the tree, having started to develop a rot from the peduncle, or stalk. Others were picked with the same condition. We have two theories as to what occurred.

A fallen jackfruit... Note the rotting peduncle and top of fruit

The first possibility is that the fruit appeared to develop a fungal infection during August and early September. The infection grew from the peduncle into the heart of the fruit, affecting the edible arils as it extended. A disease of this type is recognised by Malaysian and Indonesian growers, and is treated with fortnightly spray applications of Bordeaux or Copper Oxychloride during the first three months of fruiting. For further reading, please click here.

A heavily diseased jackfruit from the winter crop

Furthermore, as we all are aware, many species of vegetables and fruit trees will suffer diseases if they are not receiving adequate care. Perhaps, this has been the problem. In the coming year, we intend to increase the levels of mulching and fertilising of the tree in order to lessen the chances of infection and disease.

Examples of the diseased fruit

The second possibility is that the fruit had reached the limits of its possible maturation in this cool climate, and were rotting as other ‘over-ripe’ fruit would rot on the tree. Following this line of thought would mean that this variety of spring-ripening jackfruit will not make it to full maturity in Sydney. I hope that this is not the case. But, if this is definitely the case, we will have to learn to eat jackfruit curry on a more regular basis!

By the way, I suspect that the most effective covering for the fruit were the recycled rice bags.

In the near future, I will provide an update on our second jackfruit tree… which should ripen its fruit in January or February. Summer.

Wishing you hours of enjoyment and contentment in your garden…

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