General Information and Agronomic Aspects
The Mango fruit is one of the most important tropical fruits. It is native to the Indian Monsoon region and has been cultivated for the last 4000 years. It was introduced to East Africa in the 14th century. Mango has now become an important domestic and export crop in Kenya and Tanzania.
A wide range of mango cultivars is grown in Kenya. Local varieties include:
Nutritive Value per 100 g of edible Portion
|Raw or Cooked Mango||Food
(Calories / %Daily Value*)
(g / %DV)
(g / %DV)
(g / %DV)
(g / %DV)
(mg / %DV)
(mg / %DV)
(mg / %DV)
|Vitamin B 6
|Vitamin B 12
(mg / %DV)
(mg / %DV)
(g / %DV)
|Mango raw||65.0 / 3%||17.0 / 6%||0.3 / 0%||0.5 / 1%||10.0 / 1%||11.0 / 1%||0.1 / 1%||156 / 4%||765 IU / 15%||27.7 / 46%||0.1 / 7%||0.0 / 0%||0.1 / 4%||0.1 / 3%||0.5|
*Percent Daily Values (DV) are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower, depending on your calorie needs.
Mango grows best in tropical summer rain regions, at temperatures between 24degC and 28degC. Once a mango tree is well established, it is very resistant to drought. Mango needs a dry period or cooler temperatures to start blossoming and produce fruits. Rainfall during flowering seriously affects fruit setting. In the tropical regions that do not vary in rainfall or temperature, the trees will not produce any fruits. Mangoes grow well below an altitude of 1000 m. Above 1200 m production is often poor, but some cultivars such as "Sabre" and "Harris" are reported to yield well at up to 1800 m.
Mango will grow on a rainfall as little as 650 mm per year, but do better on higher rainfall of around 1500 mm.
Mango grow in most soils if they are well drained. Ideal for good growth is a deep (at least three m), fertile soil. Avoid poor, shallow, rocky and alkaline soils. A pH of 5.5 to 7.5 is desirable. Young trees should be irrigated as soon as the dry season starts. Older trees need a dry period of at least three months to start flowering. When the fruit is developing, it is very important to water the plant regularly. In Kenya, the major production season is December to March.
Propagation and planting
- Polyembryonic cultivars from seed are generally true to the parent tree and they include local cultivars like "Batawi", "Boribo", "Dodo", "Ngowe", "Peach" and "Sabre". In addition to the sexual seedling (which has to be culled out), seeds of these cultivars produce up to 5 nucellar embryos, each genetically identical to the parent tree.
- Monoembryonic cultivars like "Haden", "Kent", "Tommy Atkins" and "Van Dyke" can only prppagate true-to-type by using vegetative methods. Vegetative propagation has many advantages (e.g. early bearing, smaller trees, etc) and should be encouraged. For this purpose, rootstock seedlings must be made available. "Dodo", "Peach" and "Sabre" are commonly used rootstocks in Kenya.
Mango seeds quickly loose their viability. Use healthy, fresh seeds from well-grown, mature trees. Wash the seeds and dry them in the shade for a few days. Sow them at a spacing of 15 x 30 cm and five cm deep. Place them on their sides; the most prominently curved edge upwards, so that they produce a straight stem. To speed up germination, the hard husk can be removed before sowing. The best place to cultivate seedlings is in half-shadow. Seeds will sprout in 1 to 2 weeks and, as soon as the first flush of growth hardens (about 4 weeks later and about 10 cm high), they are transplanted into containers (about 18 x 24 cm). Plants are ready for grafting when they have reached pencil-thickness at about 20 cm above soil level. Cleft graft with scion of improved cultivars. Sources of scions of improved cultivars in Kenya include Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) (Embu, Mtwapa, Thika), prison farms or any farm with the desired cultivars. Shade the grafted plants and water frequently. Grafted seedlings are ready for transplanting about 4 months after grafting.
Select the site for the orchard carefully. Deep soil cultivation by ploughing is recommended. Clear the field of trees, bushes and weeds. Transplanting should be done at the beginning of the rains. The planting hole should be 60 x 60 cm and 100 cm deep. Under dry conditions, the hole should be bigger (about 90 x 90 cm and 100 cm deep). The spacing is 9 x 9 to 14 x 14 m between trees depending on variety and growth habit of the mango variety chosen. Mix a minimum of two buckets of good compost and a handful of Mijingu rock phosphate with the dug out soil, before returning the soil to the hole along with the young mango plant. Firm the soil around the plant. Water well and mulch. Irrigation should only be necessary to see the young tree through the first year.
Keep the area directly under the tree canopy free from weeds. During the first five years, intercropping with annual crops is recommended to maximise income until an economical mango yield is achieved. In young plantations mulching around the tree helps to suppress weeds and to retain soil moisture. Mango trees normally need pruning in order to shape young trees. Smoking of mango trees, apart from controlling pests also induces good flowering.
Formative pruning is done in the first years of the young tree to guide the tree into the desired shape. In the first year, cap the seedling at 1 m height in order to produce a spreading framework of branches. In the second year, prune to leave 4 to 5 well spaced branches to be the future main branches. Benefits from pruning:
- Fruit is produced on the outside of parts of the tree
- Fruit hold to maturity on the trees
- Open tree structure allows for easy harvesting
- Tree produces larger fruits
- Crops can be grown under the trees
- Tree benefits from natural conditions of sun and wind movement. This helps in reducing relative humidity within the canopy and also creating environment less conducive to disease development.
- It controls tree height and prevents excessive spreading of limbs.
Structural pruning should be done after fruit harvest: The canopy should be at least one m above the ground. Remove all dead branches and all sucker branches from the main structural branches. Prune canopy to allow sunlight to penetrate and reach the ground under the tree.
Improve fruit production by:
- Keeping the orchard area clean
- Removing all ripe fruit and weeds from around the tree
- Removing 1/3 of fruit after fruit set to get better size of remaining fruit.
Mango trees are susceptible to wind damage. Therefore, they should be protected from strong winds by windbreaks on the upwind side of prevailing winds.
Clear excessive vegetation regularly from beneath the trees and use as mulch.
|Mango fruits and farmers inspecting a mango tree|
|(c) A. M. Varela & A.A. Seif, icipe|
Flowering usually begins after a period of dormancy due to cool or dry weather. Smallholder mango farmers usually induce flowering with smoke.
A mango plantation will supply its first commercially marketable amount of fruit around 4 to 5 years after being planted, and are in good production after eight years reaching full maturity at some 20 years of age. One tree should produce 200 to 500 fruits per year and varieties like "Dodo" and "Boribo" can produce 1000 fruits per year. Most varieties show biennial tendencies in production and a poor harvest may follow a good one. Selection should be based on varieties showing annual bearing tendencies.
Harvest mango fruit at the mature-green stage, when they are hard and green. A mature fruit has well-developed "cheeks". Pick fruit by hand. Clip them off with a long stalk of about 2 to 3 cm and pack the fruit in a single layer with the stalks facing downwards in the box or crate. It is important that the latex dripping from the stalk drops onto an absorbent material (for example tissue paper placed at the bottom of the container). Although mature mangoes ripen fairly rapidly, they have a poor tolerance to temperatures below 10degC, especially when freshly picked. Ripe fruits can, however, be stored as low as 7 to 8deg C without developing chilling injury.
15 tons/ha per year can be achieved from the 7th year onwards if proper husbandry is followed.
Hot water treatment (HWT) is an effective post-harvest treatment method for mango. Dipping newly harvested fruits into hot water minimises fruit fly damage and anthracnose. The fruit is perishable and should be marketed as quickly as possible. For more information on hot water treatment click here.
Mango smoking reduces insect population drastically and improves fruit setting.
Smoke pots with holes in the bottom for air intake, containing wood shavings or sawdust with a topping of aromatic herbs (lemongrass etc) are hung at strategic places within the mango tree and the sawdust lit to produce a good amount of smoke which chases insects away from the tree.
Another option is to place dry grass on the ground below the tree in a position where the wind can blow maximum smoke into the top of the tree, cover it with green aromatic leaves like lantana etc and lit the grass to produce smoke.
Smoking of mango trees is reported both by Kenya Institute of Organic Farming (KIOF) and Meru Herbs Farmers, Kenya to be very effective in insect control.
Smoking also induces flowering in mango trees.
Fresh Quality Specifications for the Market in Kenya
|(c) S. Kahumbu, Kenya|