For years, I’ve heard, read, experienced sweeter agbalumos after the first rains.
My most recent memory is from 2015. We’re driving in the car one day and we stop to buy some. A, my adopted daughter says:
‘There are always a few rains before ‘Agbalumo’ proper comes into season’
And I responded, ‘Hmmm, I didn’t know that’.
And it appears to be true as I’ve heard so many people welcome the rains, with ‘Yay, the agbalumo will now be sweet’.
But – weeks before this, I saw and bought a taster set of 6 and devoured in shock because they were sweet, even the green-ringed ones and I kept asking myself the question. ‘I thought the sweet ones came after the first rains?’
So what are the effects of variations in climatic conditions on fruits – taste, texture, maybe even nutritional content?
Perhaps the rain reduced the acidity in the soil which translates to the fruit. Don’t even ask me to explain further. This. Is. Where. I. Stop!!!
I turned to my friend and grower extraordinaire, Uzo, of Uzo’s Food Labs posing the question: ‘Why…agbalumo…sweeter…rains…?’
Here’s what she said which makes SO much sense:
‘My thinking. ..it’s been dry season. These giant trees aren’t watered usually. Even if they are…just a little. The first rains will thoroughly douse the tree. Go all the way to the roots. This hit to a dehydrated plant makes the plant go into overdrive. Leaves get lusher. Roots strengthen and grow. So my assumption is that all that activity means the fruits get the benefit too.
When plants go through a regular growth cycle and fruit, you are supposed to cut off water supply when fruit is almost ripe. Melons and co because it forces the plant to focus on the fruit and not producing more leaves and foliage. This concentrates sweetness (and flavour).
I think the reverse might be the case because the fruits ripen in the dry season and haven’t had rains in a while. The water drenching may shock the tree into production over drive including activating the sugars in the fruit.
I was like wowwwwwwwwwwwwww. So scientific, so possible, possibly true.
Any biologists, botanists, knowledgeable people out there who’d like to weigh in?
Please share your thoughts. Thank you.