Information about acerola

Acerola (Malpighia emarginata) is a tropical fruit-bearing shrub or small tree in the family Malpighiaceae.

Common names include acerola cherry, Guarani cherry, Barbados cherry, West Indian cherry, and wild crepe myrtle. Acerola is native to Paraguay and Brazil in South America, Central America and southern Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Haiti, but is now also being grown in some areas of Asia such as Vietnam, India.

Acerola can be propagated by seed, cutting, or other methods. It prefers dry, well-drained, sandy soil and full sun, and cannot endure temperatures lower than −1 °C (30 °F). Because of its shallow roots, it has very low tolerance to winds. Furthermore, a sufficient water supply is advantageous for good growth and maximum yields of large fruits. This is especially important during fruiting and flowering. The optimal growth conditions are reached at a mean temperature of 26 °C (79 °F) and 1,200–1,600 mm (47–63 in) of rainfall annually.

Three years after planting, trees start producing fruits. 3–4 weeks after flowering, a number of bright red drupes 1–3 cm (0.39–1.18 in) in diameter with a mass of 3–5 g (0.11–0.18 oz) mature. The shell of the fruit is smooth and very thin. Its shelf life of 2–3 days at ambient temperature makes it highly perishable. Drupes are in pairs or groups of three, and each contains three triangular seeds. The drupes are juicy and high in vitamin C (3–46 mg/g or 1.5–20 grains per ounce) and other nutrients. They are divided into three obscure lobes and are usually acidic to sub acidic, giving them a sour taste. However, depends on the species and growing condition (soils, weather,…), the taste of acerola fruit is different.

In Vietnam, acerola can be grown in some provinces in the South of Vietnam such as Ben Tre and Tien Giang, and in general, the acerola species  grown in Vietnam especially in Go Cong- Tien Giang, has a sweeter taste than species grown in Brazil, which is sourer and more astringent, and contain higher Vitamin C

Acerola flowers and fruits already in the first year after planting but increases its production in the following years, reaching up to 47 kg (104 lb) per plant in the sixth year. The fruiting season usually extends from April to November. A cycle of fruit lasts 45 days and farmer can harvest 7 times per year. Ripe fruit should be handled carefully to avoid bruising and should be utilized as soon as possible, or frozen, processed into processed products for long-term preservation. Semi-ripe fruit will usually keep for several days in the refrigerator.

  • Pests and diseases: Malpighia emarginata is a host plant for the caterpillars of the white-patched skipper (Chiomara asychis), Florida duskywing (Ephyriades brunneus), and brown-banded skipper (Timochares ruptifasciatus). Larvae of the acerola weevil (Anthonomus macromalus ) feed on the fruits, while adults consume young leaves.
  • For pest prevention, farmers need to regularly check and sometimes use pesticides during cultivation. In Nichirei Suco Vietnam, we have a experts and patrollers who closely follow up and observe the cultivation process in our contracted acerola farms to ensure product quality and pesticide residues must always be within allowable limitation and complies with Japanese safety standards.
  • Acerola is extremely rich in Vitamin C. Whereas the content of sugar, soluble solids and titratable acids increases, the vitamin C content decreases with the ripening process of the fruit. Therefore, the immature green fruit is harvested for industrial use of the vitamin C. Besides the high vitamin C content, acerola also contains phytonutrients like phenolic acids, flavonoids, anthocyanins, and carotenoids. It is commonly used to prevent vitamin C deficiency and is also used for the common cold, diarrhea, and other conditions.