Santol or Cotton fruit is often eaten in the Philippines and Thailand because of its unique sweet, tangy, and creamy flavor. Because the skin covers the seed, one must suck on the flesh to get the taste. The fruit’s true potential is in making export-quality sweet, jam, jelly, or chutney from the pulp of the fruit.
So, how is the cotton fruit grown?
Santol is drought-tolerant and may be found in almost any kind of soil as long as it is well-drained. It has been recorded that this tree flourishes on acidic, sandy soil in Florida. It thrives on light, sandy soil that has lots of organic materials present.
Trees from the tropics overgrow and have an enormous tolerance for both dry and wet conditions. However, it is less suitable for higher elevations (1,000m or more above sea level). Drip irrigation is the greatest for seed germination.
Santol may be grown from seeds, inarching, marcotting, grafting, or budding. To avoid sour fruit, avoid using seeds. Inarching is the simplest but least utilized asexual technique. In addition, it takes 5-6 months to remove a marcot from a mother plant.
Planting may be done any month in irrigated regions. If no irrigation system is available, plant at the start of the rainy season. Seedlings should be planted 12-14m apart and grow quickly. Plant asexually propagated plants 8-10m apart.
Before planting, remove old leaves and halve the size of adult leaves. This prevents water loss from the plant. Branches should be trimmed during the first 2-3 years. After the tree bears fruit, only interlacing branches and unhealthy shoots should be pruned.
It takes 5-7 years for asexually propagated trees to produce fruit. They bloom in February-March and bear fruit from June-October. Fruits ripe are golden yellow. Let them utterly mature on the tree.