INDIA: Owing to drought, mangoes arrive three months early

In the throes of a prolonged dry spell, the people of Karnataka may have something to cheer about with the early arrival of mangoes this year. Prolonged drought in the State has induced flowering in mango trees, resulting in the arrival of the fruit three months before season.


However, horticulture experts say it is too early to predict a bumper crop with the season beginning months ahead. In the event of unseasonal rain in the coming days, flowering and fruiting may be further affected, leading to a possible fall in production.


Labelling the start of the mango season in January a “rare phenomenon”, G.D. Dinesh Kumar, senior assistant director of horticulture, said that stress on trees following a long dry spell had led to premature flowering. “This is called ‘stress-induced flowering’ and it is a natural phenomenon,” he said.


Besides Karnataka, a similar situation could be seen in many parts of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu too, as fruits from these States have already started arriving, Mr. Kumar said.


The Saindoora and Badami varieties have arrived at Devaraja Market in the city. “The Totapuri variety will flood the market soon as widespread flowering in those plants had set in months ago,” Mr. Kumar said, adding that some other mango varieties from neighbouring States too have arrived in supermarkets.


Mr. Kumar said mango growers of the district had been informed about this rare occurrence and told not to be worried by early flowering. They had been cautioned over possible pest attack in such situations and asked to take preventive steps.


Trees have been under immense pressure with the failure of monsoon for two consecutive years. Even the pre-monsoon showers failed last year in in districts like Mysuru. Such a situation had led to unseasonal flowering in November and December and fruiting in January. The normal flowering would have been in January and February and fruiting in April and May.


Sometimes, extreme cold also leads to stress in trees and induced flowering. But the stress that has occurred this year is due to drought and deficiency of moisture, Mr. Kumar said.


On a stretch on the Mysuru-Bantwal highway, many vendors have put up carts and are selling fruits, including some mango varieties, much to the surprise of travellers.


Are they safe?


But is it safe to eat mangoes that arrive ahead of season?


“As long as they are naturally ripened, it is safe to consume mangoes that arrive before season. Always avoid eating fruits that are artificially ripened,” said Mr. Kumar.


Furthermore, the fruits will be priced too high at present as it is not season yet.


Source: The Hindu, written by Shankar Bennur

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