Sep. 25, 2020
Oviedo, in 1526, described the soursop as abundant in the West Indies and in northern South America. It is today found in Bermuda and the Bahamas, and both wild and cultivated, from sea-level to an altitude of 3,500 ft (1,150 m) throughout the West Indies and from southern Mexico to Peru and Argentina. It was one of the first fruit trees carried from America to the Old World Tropics where it has become widely distributed from southeastern China to Australia and the warm lowlands of eastern and western Africa. It is common in the markets of Malaya and southeast Asia. Very large, symmetrical fruits have been seen on sale in South Vietnam. It became well established at an early date in the Pacific Islands. The tree has been raised successfully but has never fruited in Israel.
In Florida, the soursop has been grown to a limited extent for possibly 110 years. Sturtevant noted that it was not included by Atwood among Florida fruits in 1867 but was listed by the American Pomological Society in 1879. A tree fruited at the home of John Fogarty of Manatee before the freeze of 1886. In the southeastern part of the state and especially on the Florida Keys, it is often planted in home gardens.
In regions where sweet fruits are preferred, as in South India and Guam, the soursop has not enjoyed great popularity. It is grown only to a limited extent in Madras. However, in the East Indies it has been acclaimed one of the best local fruits. In Honolulu, the fruit is occasionally sold but the demand exceeds the supply. The soursop is one of the most abundant fruits in the Dominican Republic and one of the most popular in Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Colombia and northeastern Brazil.
In 1887, Cuban soursops were selling in Key West, Florida, at 10 to 50 cents apiece. In 1920, Wilson Popenoe wrote that: "In the large cities of tropical America, there is a good demand for the fruits at all times of the year, a demand which is not adequately met at present." The island of Grenada produces particularly large and perfect soursops and regularly delivers them by boat to the market of Port-of Spain because of the shortage in Trinidad. In Colombia, where the soursop is generally large, well-formed and of high quality, this is one of the 14 tropical fruits recommended by the Instituto Latinoamericano de Mercadeo Agricola for large-scale planting and marketing. Soursops produced in small plots, none over 5 acres (2.27 ha), throughout Venezuela supply the processing plants where the frozen concentrate is packed in 6 oz (170 g) cans. In 1968, 2,266 tons (936 MT) of juice were processed in Venezuela. The strained pulp is also preserved commercially in Costa Rica. There are a few commercial soursop plantations near the south coast of Puerto Rico and several processing factories. In 1977, the Puerto Rican crop totaled 219,538 lbs (99,790 kg).
At the First International Congress of Agricultural and Food Industries of the Tropical and Subtropical Zones, held in 1964, scientists from the Research Laboratories of Nestle Products in Vevey, Switzerland, presented an evaluation of lesser-known tropical fruits and cited the soursop, the guava and passionfruit as the 3 most promising for the European market, because of their distinctive aromatic qualities and their suitability for processing in the form of preserved pulp, nectar and jelly.