Establishment ( Figure 11 ):

Mango is successfully grown on a wide range of soils. The trees do well in sandy soils at the coastline as well as on loam at other elevations. The essential prerequisites for good development of the trees are deep soils (at least 3 m), appropriate rainfall (500 - 1000 mm), good drainage, suitable altitude (0 - 1200 m) and preferably a pH value of between 5.5 and 7.5. The tree itself is not difficult to grow and, once well established, is relatively tolerant of drought, occasional flooding and poor soil condition. Irrigation in the first years after planting promotes flushing (and suppresses flowering), so that tree size increases quickly. Irrigation also widens the scope for intercropping , for example, with papaya, banana, pineapple or vegetables, during the establishment phase. When the trees are big enough to produce a substantial crop, irrigation is stopped, or at least interrupted long enough to impose quiescence leading to flower initiation.

Figure 11. Good mango crop establishment

Among the various climatic factors, temperature, rainfall and humidity have a greater bearing on mango production than irrigation and soils. Furthermore, the production of high quality mango fruit does not depend so much on elevation but on the range of temperatures available. The two important considerations for mango cultivation are a dry period at the time of flowering - in Malaysia (during the months of May to August) and Kenya (mainly during the months of August to October) and sufficient heat during the time of fruit ripening. For optimum growth and productivity, 20 - 26 degree Celcius is believed to be ideal. Temperatures exceeding 40 degree Celcius may, especially in hot/dry areas, lead to sunburn of fruits and stunting of tree growth. The amount of rainfall in a given locality is not as important as its intensity and distribution. Rainfall of 500 - 1000 mm at the right time of the year is sufficient for successful cultivation. However, the mango cannot do well in areas which experience frequent rains or very high humidity during the flowering period. Such conditions are not conducive to good fruit set and they increase the incidence of serious diseases like powdery mildew and anthracnose. Anthracnose can be a major problem as the same organism occurs on avocado, coffee and papaya. Powdery mildew is quite common when low temperatures accompany high humidity.

Since mango is a long-lived perennial, the planting distance usually depends to a large extent on the vigor of the cultivar / rootstock and on the environment. Most orchards which are planted too densely, the trees are forced to grow upright and tall. Overcrowding results in the production of fewer fruits that are poorly colored and sometimes infected with diseases. Tall trees also present a harvesting problem and create difficulties during spraying and pruning. Normally, grafted trees are spaced at 8 x 10 m or 10 x 12 m, though at the coast seedlings require 12 x 14 m. Intercrops of short-lived fruit trees such as papaya or annual crops could be used for better utilization of land in widely spaced young plantations. The location of the intended planting will dictate the choice of cultivars.


Interculture:Interculture in orchards is practicable for the proper upkeep of any mango orchard. The removal of weeds not only avoids the competition for essential nutrients but also creates better physical soil environment for plant growth, particularly root development. It also helps in water movement in soil and in controlling some of the insect pests. Moreover, it ensures proper incorporation of the applied plant nutrients in soil and reduces their loss.

Frequency and the time of interculture operations vary with age of the orchard and existence of intercrops (e.g guava). Immediately after planting the mango, the weed problem may not exist, but it is advisable to break the crust with hand hoe each time after 10 to 15 irrigations. However, subsequent hoeing may be done depending on weed growth in the basin. Interculture operations are equally important for the bearing mango orchards. First ploughing should be done before the onset of rains. This will help in checking run-off losses and facilitate maximum retention of water in the soil. Orchard may be ploughed again after the rainy season is over in order to suppress weed growth and to break capillaries.


Planting Design, Training and Pruning:

Prior to planting, field should be deeply ploughed, harrowed and leveled. Pits of proper size should be dug at appropriate distances and filled by adding sufficient quantity of farmyard manure. The seedlings to be planted should be procured from reliable nurseries few days before actual transplanting.

(1) Time of planting: The best time for planting is when there is sufficient moisture in the atmosphere. In the area of heavy rainfall, the best time of planting mango is the end of the rainy season. In tracts where the rainfall is less, the planting can be done in the early part of the monsoon for better establishment. The planting should be done in the evening; otherwise if the day turns out to be unusually hot or dry, the plants may wither due to excessive loss of water. If the sky is overcast, planting can be done during daytime also


(ii) Planting distance: The planting distance varies according to variety, the fertility level of the soil and general growth conditions in the area. Where the growth is excessive, the distance should be 14 x 14 m, but in the dry zones where the growth is less, it can be regulated to about 10 x 10 m. For high density planting, the distance can be 5 x 3 or 5 x 2.5 or 3 x 2.5 or 2.5 x 2.5 m.

For increased early production, an extra tree may be planted in between mango placement and the center of a 200-square meter to be removed later when overcrowding is prevalent.

(iii) Size of pits: In locations where the soil is loamy and deep, pits of 0.5 x 0.5 x 0.5 m be dug at desired distances. However, in shallow and hill soils, the pits should at last be of 1 x 1 x 1 m size.

(iv) Filling of pits: The pits should be filled with the original soil mixed with 10-50 kg well rotten farmyard manure. In the top two-third portion, the proportion of the manure and soil may be kept as 1:3. In case of stony soils, it is better to remove all the stones from the excavated material and remaining soils should be mixed with soil scrapped from the left over area. The pits should invariably be filled before the rainy season, so that there is maximum settling down before the advent of heavy rainfall and much before planting.

(v) Planting of mango seedling: The plant with its ball of earth intact should be taken out of the soil or pot. The plant can then be placed with the help of a planting board in the centre of the pit by excavating as much soil as necessary to accommodate the root-ball. The moist soil of the pit is then pressed all around the root ball to complete the planting process. A small basin is then made and the plant is properly watered. The planting should not be done so high as to expose the upper roots. It is always better to adjust it at the same height/depth at which it was in the seedling bag or the nursery bed.

(vi) Young Tree Establishment : Newly planted trees should be watered two or three times the first week, then once or twice per week for several weeks. Simply fill the water basin and let the water soak in. The water ring will gradually erode away over four to six months, at which time the tree can be considered established.

Delay fertilization until new growth occurs after planting, then apply monthly. Scatter the fertilizer on the ground under the tree and promptly water thoroughly. Using ammonium sulfate (21-0-0), use one half cup monthly in the first year, one cup per month in the second and two cups monthly in the third year. For other fertilizer analyses, adjust the rate accordingly. Fertilization, using 21-0-0, should be at the rate of one to two cups per inch of trunk diameter per year, split into equal applications at 4 monthly intervals. Simply scatter the fertilizer on the soil surface under the tree, then water thoroughly.

All lawn grass and weeds should be eliminated for several feet around the young mango, as the tree cannot compete for water and nutrients until it is much larger. As the tree grows, widen the grass-free area beyond the canopy. Organic mulches are excellent for mango trees. No pruning or training should be necessary except to remove deadwood.


(vii) Mature Tree Care. Cultural practices are designed to maintain good growth and production. Irrigation, nutrition, and weed and grass control are the major practices in mature mango tree care.

Irrigation is the same as for other established fruit trees--water slowly, deeply and thoroughly. Repeat as needed, based on soil type and prevailing weather. Weekly soakings during the summer are more than adequate.

Weed and grass control under the tree is desirable to reduce competition and can be easily maintained by use of organic mulch replenished as necessary.

The only pruning necessary is to remove dead or damaged branches, which will occur following major freezes unless excellent cold protection methods are practiced. Then, pruning should be delayed until the extent of freeze damage can be ascertained.


(viii) Training: Normally, mango trees require very little training. However, the training of the plants during the initial stages is very essential to give them proper shape. In formative years, trees may be pruned to have one main trunk clear of branching up to about 1 m. After that, they assume a desirable rounded canopy shape naturally. When the graft has branched too low, the process of training becomes very important. At least 75 cm of the main stem should be kept free from branching and the first leader/main branch may be allowed after that. The main branches should be spaced in such a way that they grow in different directions and are at least 20 to 25 cm apart, otherwise there are chances of breakage due to smaller crotch angles and heavy top. The branches which exhibit tendency of crossing and rubbing each other should be removed in the pencil thickness stage, otherwise they break by rubbing each other at a later stage and create complications. Secondly, if the center is closed, the fruits produced are of poor quality having less coloration in the absence of sufficient sunlight. By following the above practice and after giving proper shape to the trees, there will be much less scope for future pruning except removal of diseased, pest infested or dried shoots/wood. More importantly, the few fruits set in a tree's first years of fruiting should be removed to speed up tree development.

(ix) Pollination: The pollen grains are of variable shapes, with the size varying from 20 to 35 micron. Small amounts of pollen are produced in mango. The grains of pollen are sphaeroidal to prolate sphaeroidal, radially symmetrical, subangular in polar view and isopolar with a few giant triploid ones of up to 50 micron. Further they are 3-monocolporate, goniotreme, sides convex-subprolate; apertures equidistant and zonal with ecto-aperture (colpus) extend slit-like from pole to pole.


Mangoes are considered self-fertile and do not require pollinators, but research indicates that some cultivars are self-unfruitful or at least benefit from cross-pollination. Fruit set is generally just a few percent, with an average of only one mango per panicle. The pollen incorrectly is said to cause eye irritation and dermatitis; there is almost no air-borne pollen since it is heavy and adherent. The irritation probably results from volatile, irritating oils. Pollination is achieved by wild insects such as ants, flies, and to a lesser extent, honey bees.

There is no indication that to place colonies of honey bees in mango groves has become an accepted practice; however, the chances are likely that such bee usage is needed. The evidence is quite strong that concentration of colonies of honeybees within the mango grove would result in increased floral visitation and possibly more stabilized set of fruits, particularly in some years. The mango flowers do not appear to be overly attractive to honey bees and they tend to open in large numbers at a time of year when many other flowers are also available, so visitation in commercial groves is likely to be far below that necessary for maximum floral visitation. If such is the case, a heavy concentration of colonies in the grove, possibly three to six per acre, may be necessary to obtain maximum fruit set.


-- Top --