Loja Province (southern Ecuador) is generally acknowledged to be located in the centre of origin of cherimoya (Annona cherimola Mill.), a promising Andean fruit that is cultivated on an increasing scale, with Spain, Chile and United States showing growing interest in its commercialisation.
A comprehensive study of cherimoya in Loja Province realised from January 1996 till September 1999 gave valuable information for future crop development. Although cherimoya is very common, well known and appreciated all over the province, commercial cultivation has not yet developed and the
trees are found in the wild or tolerated in farmers' gardens. Several trees showed better fruit quality characteristics than those of 'Fino de Jete', 'Bays', 'White', 'Bronceada' and 'Concha Lisa', which are commercialised on large scale. It is concluded
that Loja Province possesses interesting germplasm accessions which should be used to develop local cherimoya growing and in international cherimoya improvement programmes.
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