Growing Sapodilla (Sapota) For Beginners

Growing Sapodilla (Sapota) For Beginners:

This is all about Growing Sapodilla.

Introduction to Growing Sapodilla (Sapota):- Sapodilla (Sapota) commonly called Chiku fruit is mainly grown in because of its fruit worth, while in South-East Mexico, Guatemala and other countries it is commercially grown for the production of chickle which is a gum-like substance obtained from latex and is mainly employed for the preparation of chewing gum. Sapodilla is a long-lived, evergreen tree native to southern Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

When it comes to tree description, sapodilla may grow to greater than 30 meters in height with a mean trunk diameter of 1.5 meters. The average height of cultivated specimens, however, is generally between 9 and 15 meters with a trunk diameter not exceeding 50 cm. It is wind-resistant and the bark is rich in a white, gummy latex called chicle. The ornamental leaves are medium green and glossy. They are the alternate, elliptic to ovate, 7 to15 cm long, with an entire margin. The white flowers are inconspicuous and bell-like, with a six-lobed corolla. An unripe fruit has a firm outer skin and when picked, releases white chicle from its own stem. The sapodilla trees can only survive in warm, typically tropical environments, dying easily if the temperature drops below freezing conditions. By germination, the sapodilla tree will often take anywhere from five to eight years to bear fruit. The sapodilla trees yield fruit twice a year, though flowering could continue year round.

When it comes to fruit description, The fruit is a large berry, 4 to 8 cm in diameter. Inside, its flesh ranges from a light yellow to an earthy brown shade with a grainy texture. Each fruit contains 1 to 6 seeds. The seeds are hard, glossy, and black, resembling legumes or beans and the fruit has an exceptionally sweet, malty flavor. Commercial cultivation of sapota is picking up very fast as there are huge profits in Growing Sapodilla.

Scientific Name / Botanical Name of Sapodilla:- Manilkara zapota.

Family Name of  Sapodilla:- Sapotaceae.

Genus of  Sapodilla:- Manilkara.

Sapodilla in Indian Languages: – The following are local Sapodilla names in India.

  • English: Sapodilla.
  • Hindi: Chiku,
  • Tamil: சப்போட்டா.
  • Malayalam: Chiku.
  • Telugu: Sapota Pandu.
  • Kannada: Sapota/Chiku.

Varieties / Types (Cultivars) of Sapodilla:- Well, there are many hybrid varieties and improved varieties of Sapodilla grown in many parts of the world. The following are some of the cultivars (varieties) of Sapota grown in Indian continent.

  • Cricket ball.
  • Kalipatti.
  • Calcutta round.
  • Khirthibarathi.
  • Dwarapudi.
  • Gandhevi Barada.
  • Pala.
  • PKM-1.
  • Jonnavalasa I & II.
  • Banglore.
  • Vavi Valsa.
  • Baramsi.
  • DHS-1.
  • DHS-2.

Climate Required for Growing Sapodilla:- Sapodilla (Sapota), being a tropical crop may be grown from sea level up to 1,200 meters. over mean sea level. This crops need warm and humid climatic conditions for growth and can be cultivated throughout the year. The coastal climate is best suited for its cultivation.

Soil Required for Growing Sapodilla:- Alluvial, sandy loam, red Laterite and medium black soils with good drainage are ideal for the cultivation of Sapodilla (Sapota). Commercial growers should go for soil test for knowing suitability, soil fertility. Any soil nutrient deficiencies should be supplemented during the land preparation.

Land Preparation for Growing Sapodilla:- Well, land should be given 2 or 3 ploughings to ensure weed-free and fine tilth stage. The land should be thoroughly ploughed at 30 to 45 cm depth and levelled.

Propagation for Growing Sapodilla:- Sapodilla (Sapota) is commercially propagated by vegetative techniques like air layering or gootee layering, grafting and budding.

Sapodilla Seeds.
Sapodilla Seeds.

The season for  Growing Sapodilla:- Planting can be done in almost any season provided irrigation facilities are available. Grafts are often planted at the beginning of the rainy season. In areas which experience heavy rainfall, the seeds/harvest can be planted as late as September month.

Sowing, Planting and Spacing in Growing Sapodilla:- On an average, 130 to 140 plants can be planted at a spacing of 8 meters. High-density planting with a spacing of 5-meter x 5 meters . up to age 12 years has been adopted successfully.

In light soils, pits of 60 cm x 60 cm x 60 cm of size, whereas in heavy and seriously soils pits of 1-meter x 1-meter x 1 meter. size are created in April-May and exposed to the sun for a period of fifteen days. The pits are afterward on filled with well-rotted compost or farmyard manure, 3 kg. superphosphate and 1.5 kg of muriate of potash. The pits are then left to monsoon rains for settling and planting is done at the appropriate time.

Grafts, budded plants or layers are planted one in each pit and care is taken so that the bud joint or graft is at least 15 cm. Above the ground level. After planting, stakes are provided to avoid wind damage. Young plants are protected from sunlight by making dry grass thatch at the top and three sides excepting the south-east for sunlight.

Square method of planting method is recommended. Contour planting is recommended in case of sloping land.

Note: Planting season and varieties vary from region to region in Growing Sapodilla.

Irrigation for Growing Sapodilla:- Well, Irrigation depends on soil moisture holding capacity and climatic conditions. However, Sapodilla crop requires an irrigation immediately after planting and on the third day and once in 9 to 10 days afterward till the graft establishes. In Monsoon season, no need to irrigate the plants. Drip irrigation is the best bet in growing sapodilla. Drip irrigation not only saves water and also helps in controlling weed growth and utilization of fertilizers. Some regional governments provide subsidy on drip irrigation. Contact your local horticulture department for more details.

Intercultural Operations in Growing Sapodilla:- Carrying timely intercultural operation in Sapota plantation results in good plant growth and high yields.

  • Weed Control:
  • Pruning: Pruning is done to expose the trees to sunlight and to eliminate the dead and diseased branches. It is mainly done to modulate the vegetative growth in order to improve the productivity and quality of Sapota fruits.
  • Growth Regulators: Fruit fall is a really serious difficulty in sapodilla (Sapota). Spraying with GA3 @ 50 to 100 ppm. At the time of flowering is quite effective for getting better fruit-set and also preventing fruit drop.

Inter Crops in Growing Sapodilla:- Legumes and short duration vegetable crops may be cultivated as intercrops during the pre-bearing phase of sapodilla. Cultivation of intercrops results in additional income for farmers and enriches the soil fertility by fixing the atmospheric nitrogen. The ideal inter-crops are the banana, papaya, pineapple, cocoa, french bean, peas, tomato, brinjal, cabbage, cauliflower,  and cucurbits.

Manures and Fertilizers for Growing Sapodilla:- Sapota responds very well to manures and fertilizers.  Under rainfed conditions, nutrient application ought to be done at the beginning of monsoon. But under irrigated conditions, it ought to be applied in 2 splits. A total quantity of organic compost and 1/2 of the dose of chemical fertilizers must be applied at the beginning of monsoon and remaining half in a post-monsoon period .. Since the majority of the active follicles have been distributed within the thickness of 30cm, nutrients must be applied beneath the tree canopy and mixed completely in the soil.

The recommended manure and fertilizer dose in growing Sapota fruits are:

Sapota Tree Age Farm Yard Manure/Tree N (Nitrogen)




Potash (K)
1 20 300 150 100
2 30 450 225 200
3 40 600 300 300
4 50 750 375 300
5 60 900 450 400
6th year onwards 70 1000 500 500

Pests and Diseases in Growing Sapodilla:- Controlling pests and diseases in Sapota orchard directly results in profits in Sapota farming.


Chiku Bud Borer:

  • Symptoms: The bud borer feeds by making holes into the petals and gut resulting in significant crop loss.
  • Control Steps: Two sprays of Monocrotophos @ 0.05 percent at 15 days interval can effectively control the insect. This pest can also be manipulated by using light traps or traps containing bait of tulsi (basil) leaf extract and Dichlorvos.

Chiku Moth:

  • It is the most serious pest causing harm to young terminals affecting buds and fresh leaves, resulting in the reduction of flowering and fruiting due to shedding effect.

Leaf  Miner:

  • Symptoms: The infestation is mainly seen during the rainy season. The maggots feed on the leaves by leaving characteristic mines. The upper portion of the affected leaves turns white in color and dry in the Event of Acute harm.
  • Control Steps: Spraying of systemic insecticides like Metasystox can check this pest effectively.

Fruit Fly:

  • Symptoms: It is becoming a serious pest in locations where intercrops are accepted in Sapota plantations. A maximum period of infestation is between March and July. The female punctures the outer wall of adult fruits and lays eggs inside the fruit. The creatures on maturity feed on the pulp of this fruit, which looks ordinary from outside. The affected fruit finally drops down.
  • Control Steps: Integrated control involving ploughing in the summertime, collection, and disposal of all those lost fruits, cubes of Methyl Eugenol and squirt of pesticide is advised.

Mealy Bugs:

  • Symptoms: The mealy bugs exist in colonies around the lower surface of their leaves and close to the stem of the fruit. Nymphs and adults suck the cell sap in the leaves and fruits. In the event of severe infestation that the leaves turn yellowish and fruiting is influenced. The insects secrete honeydew like chemical, which facilitates the progression of the sooty mould.
  • Control Steps: Two to Three sprayings of Malathion (0.05%) at an interval of 2 weeks controls the pest effectively.


  • Leaf Spot:

The symptoms of this disease are like little, pinkish to reddish brown spots with whitish centers in the leaf.

How to Control: Spraying Dithane Z-78  @0.1 percent at monthly intervals can control the disease.

  • Sooty Mould :

It is a fungal disease caused on honeydew-like excretion secreted by mealy bugs. The ringworm

Gradually covers the entire leaf area seriously affecting the process of photosynthesis. This results in Reduced translocation of meals to the fruits, which leads to a reduction in their size.

How to Control: Spraying with 40 grams of Zineb in 20 liters of water gives effective control.

Flat Leaf: Symptoms include branches become flattened. These flattened branches are often rough, corrugated and twisted at the tip.

How to Control: Removing and destroying the flattened shoots may control the disease.

Note: Your local department of horticulture is a good source of finding information about pests and diseases in Growing Sapodilla farming. Don’t experiment on your own without knowing the symptoms and causes.

Harvesting in Growing Sapodilla:- The Sapota fruiting starts from the 3rd year following planting, however, the economic yield can be obtained from 7th year onwards. Being climacteric fruit, it improves in quality after harvesting but pre-mature harvesting contributes to inadequate quality. On the flip side, fruits harvested late soften quickly resulting in spoilage during handling and transportation. At maturity, the brown scarf on the fruit surface is replaced by yellowish corky brownish color. The absence of green tissues and latex additionally indicates maturity. The fruits are picked by hand or harvested with special harvester which has a round ring with a mesh tote fixed on a long pole.

Post Harvesting Tasks in Growing Sapodilla:-

  • Grading:

Grading is mainly based on size and shape of these fruits. The Sapota fruits are graded into three categories depending upon their size viz. Big, medium and small.

  • Storage:

The fruits are highly perishable and can be stored under an ordinary condition for a period of 7-8 days after harvesting. In a storage temperature of 200 C, the storage life could be increased for a period of 21 to 24 days by removing ethylene and adding 5 to10% CO2 to storage air. The fruits have been dipped in GA solution in a pre-packing stage in order to extend the storage life of these fruits.

Sapota being a climacteric fruit needs to be ripened artificially. In 20-25 0 C and can be stored for five weeks. Ripened ones could be stored at 2-30 C and 90-95% RH for a period of six weeks.

  • Packing:

Fruits are packed in cardboard boxes of 10 kg. Capacity with rice straw as padding material and ethylene absorbents.

  • Transportation:

Road transportation by trucks/lorries is the most popular mode of transportation due to simple approach from orchards to the market.

  • Marketing:

Many intermediaries like wholesalers and commission representatives are involved in the marketing of Sapota fruit. The farmer realizes roughly 50 percent of the wholesale price.

Yield in Growing Sapodilla:- The yield of any fruit crop depends on variety,  tree age, soil type, fertility, climate, irrigation or annual rainfall, cultivation methods, plant density and other horticulture management practices. In case of Sapota (Sapodilla), the fruit yield ranges from 25 to 30 tonnes/ha/year.

Marketing of Sapodilla:- You can transport Sapota to Local markets or sell the produce at the farm gate.

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