Location. The mango grows to a good size and casts a dense shade, but the roots are not destructive. It requires full sun and perfect air drainage. It does best at the top or middle level of a slope. A windbreak should be provided in exposed areas. The trees may also need staking. In places where there is intense heat exposure, it needs the shade of other trees. In the garden or near the coast, plant against a south wall, or in an area surrounded by paving, to provide maximum heat. In the greenhouse, full light and free air movement are important to avoid disease.
Soils and Climate. Mangoes are adapted to many soil types, it will grow in almost any well-drained soil whether sandy, loam or clay, but avoid heavy, wet soils. A pH between 5.5 and 7.5 is preferred. They are somewhat tolerant of alkalinity. For good growth, mangoes need deep soil to accommodate their extensive root systems.
Mangoes can be grown on a wide range of soil types, from light sandy loams to red clay soils. Soil pH of 5.5 to 7.5 is preferred. Deep rich soils give the best production and fruit quality. Well drained soils are recommended. Moderately sloping sites are also recommended to prevent water logging. Deep soils without impermeable layers permit the development of deep taproots that aids in drought tolerance and wind resistance.
Mangoes grow best in seasonally wet/dry climate zones of the lowland tropics. A dry and/or cool season causes uniform floral initiation and tends to synchronize bloom and harvest. Mango does not attain a truly dormant state, but ceases growth at temperatures below 55-60oF. Temperatures below 60 or above 100°F at flowering can cause flower abortion, loss of pollen viability, and occasionally seedless fruit development (small).
Mangoes will grow from sea level to an elevation of about 1,500 feet, but mangoes are most productive below 1,200 feet. Mango is best adapted to hot, dry leeward areas that receive less than 60 inches of rainfall annually, but supplemental irrigation is desirable for highest yields in those areas. Trees have a high water requirement during fruit maturation. Anthracnose disease often destroys both flowers and developing fruits in humid, high-rainfall areas. Dry weather during the flowering period is best for fruit production. Wind can damage flowers and reduce yields. High winds can knock fruit off trees or cause scarring, since the fruit hang on long, pendulous floral branches at the periphery of the canopy. Mango trees should be protected from strong winds, but windbreaks that shade or compete with them should be avoided.
Planting Design, Training, 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.
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. Unfortunately, however, this extra tree is seldom removed due to Philippine cultural practices, which leads to overcrowding.
More importantly, the few fruits set in a tree's first years of fruiting should be removed to speed up tree development.
Interculture. Interculture in orchards is necessary 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. 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. If the intercrops are not being raised in the pre-bearing stage due to some reasons, the area between the basins should be ploughed at least three times a year, (i.e., pre-monsoon, post-monsoon and in the last week of November). 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. Third ploughing may be done in the last week of November or first week of December to keep in check the proliferation of other pests/insects.
Pruning. Healthy trees require little pruning, although pruning to stimulate new growth promotes uniform annual bearing. Removing some flower clusters during a heavy bloom year may also alleviate alternate bearing. Sap and debris can cause severe dermatitis. It is best to avoid burning prunings or litter.
Developing trees should be trained to eliminate low branches less than 3 feet from the ground, leaving three to four main branches on the trunk at different heights.. Pruning of well-formed older trees is usually confined to removal of dead branches. Pruning is preferably done after fruiting, before a growth flush occurs. Pruning can also be done to restrict tree size for small yards/orchards or when more than 51 trees per hectare are planted.
Some delay in flowering can be expected from new growth produced in response to pruning.
As the tree grows older, it may be hedged and topped to control size. This is done in the summer after harvest, and if light, does not impact next year's crop since fruit are borne terminally on growth flushes that occur after pruning. Severe pruning will decrease fruiting the following year, however.
Irrigation. Amount and frequency of irrigation depends upon the type of soil, prevailing climatic conditions, especially rainfall to be given and its distribution and age of trees. No irrigation is required during the monsoon months unless there are long spells of drought. Irrigation should start when the weather warms. Continue every one to two weeks, more often in light soils, nearly continuously in areas where soil water retention is low. Irrigation may be discontinued when rains are sufficient to maintain soil moisture.
During the first year when the plants are very young with shallow root system, they should be watered every 2 to 3 days in the dry season. Trees in the age group of 2 to 5 years should be irrigated at 4 to 5 days interval. The irrigation interval could be increased to 10 to 15 days for 5 to 8 years old plants during dry season. Although hot, dry weather is favorable to fruit development, supplementary irrigation between flowering and harvest is advisable for good yields. When trees are in full bearing stage, generally 2 to 3 irrigation are given after the fruit set. Irrigation should be given at 50 percent field capacity. After harvesting, watering is then increased after one to two months to initiate a new bloom and growth cycle.
Generally, intercrops are grown during the early years of plantation and hence frequency and method of irrigation has to be adjusted accordingly. It is advisable to irrigate the mango plants in basins around them, which can be connected in series or to the irrigation channel in the centre of rows. The intercrops need to be irrigated independently as per their specific requirements. In mono-cropping of mango, basin irrigation is preferable with a view to economize water use.
Fertilization. Soil fertility has a direct effect on all aspects of crop growth and development. In some cases, post-harvest disorders can be linked directly to the deficiency of a particular mineral, but often other environmental factors such as water stress are involved. "Spongy tissue" symptoms in mango have been linked to mineral deficiency and copper and iron deficiencies cause abnormal peel development in citrus fruits.
Nutrient uptake in mango is from large volume of soils. Therefore, it is able to sustain growth even in low fertility soils. However, its efficient management involves the replenishment of the nutrients used-up by the tree for its growth and maintenance, harvested produce and natural losses from soils through leaching and run off. Even the under-nourished trees can be revived by suitable supplementation of nutrients through fertilizers.
Mango trees require regular applications of nitrogen fertilizer to promote healthy growth flushes and flower production. Organic fertilizers perform best, since the trees are subject to fertilizer burn. Young trees are particularly sensitive to over-fertilizing, but respond well to fish emulsion. Sandy soils require more fertilizer than loam or clay.
Fertilizer may be a 1:1:1 or 1:2:2 N-P-K ratio formulation, such as 14-14-14 or 10-20-20 N-P-K. During tree establishment, phosphorus (P) is important for root development. Nitrogen (N) and potassium (K) are needed by bearing trees for good yields.
The idea of applying manure to fruit bearing trees is also to secure regular fruit production. Application of manure to mango plants starts right from planting operation in the orchard. First application is made at the time of filling of the pits. Fertilizer application during the first year of planting may be given as 100 g N, 50 g P2O5 and 100 g K2O per plant. The above dose should be increased every year up to 10 years in the multiple of first year's dose. Accordingly, a 10-year-old tree should receive 1 kg N, 500 g P2O5 and 1 kg K2O. This dose should continue to be applied in subsequent years also. Application of 50 kg well-decomposed organic manure should be given each four year to create proper soil physical environment. For trench application of fertilizers, 400 g each of N and K2O and 200 g of P2O5 per plant should be given.
Fertilizers may be applied in two split doses, one half immediately after the harvesting of fruits and the other half 3 to 4 months later, in both young and old orchards, followed by irrigation if there are no rains. Supplemental N and foliar application of 3 percent urea in sandy soils is recommended before flowering, when vegetative growth flushes rather than flowering occur. Slow-release fertilizer formulations are preferred, except for supplemental N applications, which should have rapid release.
The mixture of recommended dose of fertilizers should be broadcast under the canopy of plant leaving about 50 cm from tree trunk in old trees. The applied fertilizer should be incorporated well up to the dept of 15 cm soil. To increase fertilizer use efficiency, fertilizers should be applied in 25 cm wide and 25 to 30 cm deep trenches dug around the tree 2 m away from trunk.
Diseases. Mango suffers from several diseases at all stages of its life. All the parts of the plant, namely, trunk, branch, twig, leaf, petiole, flower and fruit are attacked by a number of pathogens including fungi, bacteria and algae. They cause several kinds of rot, die back, anthracnose, scab, necrosis, blotch, spots, mildew, etc. Some of these diseases like powdery mildew are of great economic importance as they cause heavy losses in mango production. Major diseases of mango and their control measures are discussed below.
Depending on the prevailing weather conditions blossom blight may vary in severity from slight to a heavy infection of the panicles. Black spots develop on panicles as well as on fruits. Severe infection destroys the entire inflorescence resulting in no setting of fruits. Young infected fruits develop black spots, shrivel and drop off. Fruits infected at mature stage carry the fungus into storage and cause considerable loss during storage, transit and marketing. The fungus perpetuates on twigs and leaves of mango or other hosts. Since the fungus has a long saprophytic survival ability on dead twigs, the diseased twigs should be pruned and burnt along with fallen leaves for reducing the inoculum potential.
Control: Trees may be sprayed twice with Bavistin (0.1%) at 15 days interval during flowering to control blossom infection. Spraying of copper fungicides (0.3%) is recommended for the control of foliar infection.
Postharvest Diseases: The mango fruit is susceptible to many postharvest diseases caused by anthracnose (C. gloeosporioides) and stem end rot (L. theobromae) during storage under ambient conditions or even at low temperature. Aspergillus rot is another postharvest disease of mango.
Control: Pre-harvest sprays of fungicides could control the diseases caused by latent infection of these fungi. Postharvest dip treatment of fruits with fungicides could also control the diseases during storage.
The following treatments are suggested:
Pests. More than 492 species of insects, 17 species of mites and 26 species of nematodes have been reported to be infesting mango trees. Almost a dozen of them have been found damaging the crop to a considerable extent causing severe losses and, therefore, may be termed as major pests of mango. These are hopper, mealy bug, inflorescence midge, fruit fly, scale insect, shoot borer, leaf webber and stone weevil. Of these, insects infesting the crop during flowering and fruiting periods cause more severe damage. The insects other than those indicated above are considered as less injurious to mango crop and are placed in the category of minor pests. A brief description of the biology and control of major pests of mango is given below.
The adult male is winged and small, female is bigger and wingless. The female, after copulation, crawl down the tree in the month of April-May and enter in the cracks in the soil for laying eggs in large numbers encased in white egg sacs. The eggs lie in diapause state in the soil till the return of the favorable conditions in the month of November - December. Just after hatching, the minute newly hatched pink to brown colored nymphs crawl up the tree. After climbing up the tree they start sucking the sap of tender plant parts. They are considered more important because they infest the crop during the flowering season and if the control measures are not taken timely, the crop may be destroyed completely.
Control: Pruning of the heavily infested plant parts and their immediate destruction followed by two sprays of Monocrotophos (0.04 %) or Diazinon (0.04 %) or Dimethoate (0.06 %) at an interval of 20 days have been found very effective in controlling the scale population.
Control: The attacked shoots may be clipped off and destroyed. Spraying of Carbaryl (0.2%) or Quinalphos (0.05%) or Monocrotophos (0.04%) at fortnightly intervals from the commencement of new flush gives effective control of the pest. A total of 2-3 sprays may be done depending on the intensity of infestation.
Control: The pest can be effectively controlled by following the recommendations given for the control of bark eating caterpillar.
Eggs are minute and white in color. Adult weevils are 5 to 8 mm long, stout and dark brown in color. Life-cycle is completed in 40 to 50 days. Adults hibernate until the next fruiting season. There is only one generation in a year.
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, 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) extends slit-like from pole to pole.
Mangoes are considered self-fertile and do not require pollinizers, 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 borne 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, 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 today much more so than when his studies were made. 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 fruit, 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.
Harvest, Post Harvest and Handling. The mango is the apple of the tropics, and one of the most commonly eaten fruits in tropical countries around the world. To ensure that mangoes can be commercially distributed, proper harvesting and handling procedures must strictly be followed to maintain the quality and freshness of the fruit.
Curing is carried out on immature fruit after harvest to allow quality development. Fruits are stored for 15 days at 70 F and RH of 85-90%. Ethylene is often supplied in more sophisticated operations to accelerate color development (by 3-8 days) and allow more uniform ripening.
Mangoes are subject to chilling injury, and must not be stored at <55°F. Storage life is only 2-3 weeks under optimal conditions.
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.
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.
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 and nut 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.
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 in June and December. Simply scatter the fertilizer on the soil surface under the tree, then water thoroughly.
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.