Fruit FAQ (Part I)

Q: What type of land is suitable for fruit cultivation?

A: Generally well drained, deep loam soils are recommended for growing fruit tree crops. Shallow and very heavy soils are discouraged.

Q: What are the major recommendations for farmers to improve fruit production/ productivity?

A: Orchard management includes timely application of nutrients (fertilizer both organic and inorganic) according to plant age and vigour. Water requirement according to soil and climate, prunning, disease and insect control when applicable and weeds control during summer and winter seasons.

Q: Is any farm/area suitable for growing mangoes?

A: Mangoes prefer a frost-free climate with a cool dry winter. They will grow on a wide range of soils but prefer light, well-drained soil of reasonably low fertility. Slopes should not be too steep to allow safe machinery access. You will need about 6 ML of water per hectare per year.

Q: Why are the flowers on mango tree turning black?

A: The fungal disease anthracnose is the most common cause of flowers turning black. The symptoms are small black spots developing on the flowers, stalks and small fruit. Preventative sprays can reduce the risk of infection. Fruitspotting bugs and bacterial flower disease also cause black spots on the inflorescence.

Q: How do bacterial black spot are controlled?

A: Bacterial black spot invades young leaves and fruit mainly through surface damage caused by wind. Windbreaks reduce wind damage to trees and thus help to control infection. A sustained regular spray program using a recommended fungicide will manage the disease.

Q: Why are the leaves on mango tree going brown?

A: Leaves turn brown for many reasons but the main cause is the disease anthracnose. Young leaves are particularly susceptible to infection and it is worse in wet conditions. If it is mainly the tips of the leaves turning brown, it is probably fertiliser burn or saline irrigation water. Leafminers tunnelling through leaves can also cause leaves to turn brown.

Q: Why do some fruit never get bigger than an egg?

A: Egg-sized fruit are the result of poor pollination caused by cool night temperatures during flowering. Some of the fruit fall off and others will develop to egg-size. If you cut them open, you will find there is no seed.

Q: Why do mangoes stay green?

A: Incorrect ripening practices and high nitrogen levels in the tree are the most common causes of mangoes staying green when ripe.

Q: How skin browning in mango can be avoided?

A: Incorrect harvesting and postharvest handling practices cause skin browning. You need to manage your system to minimise skin damage from sap contamination, bumping, dirt, wetness and heat.

Q: Whether grafted plants or seedlings can be used for planting mango?

A: Grafted plants produce earlier, are less vigorous and have a more uniform production than plants grown from seed.

Q: How long mango trees will take to bear fruit?

A: Grafted trees will settle into a cropping pattern by the third year after planting and reach peak production in six to eight years. Seedling trees take a year longer to come into production.

Q: Why dont mango trees flower?

A: Mango trees are sensitive to climatic conditions at flower initiation. They need a dormant period in winter to initiate flowering. Poor flowering can also result from reduced carbohydrate reserves in the tree from a very heavy crop the previous season, or from late pruning.

Q: Why do mango trees flower but not set fruit?

A: Poor fruit set can be caused by poor pollination due to cold weather at flowering, or fungal diseases such as anthracnose in the flowers. There are also several insects that eat the flowers.

Q: Why are mango fruit dropping off?

A: Mango flowers will set many more fruit then the tree can hold and will have significant fruit drop. Other reasons for fruit falling off include water stress, poor pollination, disease and insect attack.

Q: Why are mango blooms, especially during the dry weather (March & April)?

A: Suddenly turn brown and dry up? This is usually due to a disease called powdery mildew. Examine the bloom closely for white masses of infection. It can also affect fruits and leaves. The use of fungicide treatment will treat the infection.

Q: Should mangoes can be artificially ripened?

A: Mangoes are generally harvested in a mature but still firm, green state. Ethylene gas can be used to trigger ripening of fruit, bringing on uniform colouring and ripening. The results from gassing depend on critical temperature management during and after ethylene treatment. Your decision on whether to gas fruit or not should be made in consultation with your agent/wholesaler because ripened fruit has a shorter storage life and will need to move quickly through the market chain.

Q: Do mangoes need refrigeration?

A: Fruit should be cooled within 48 hours of harvest to prolong storage life, maximise fruit quality and improve colour development. Uncooled fruit tends to ripen irregularly and is more prone to post-harvest diseases.

Q: What temperature should mangoe be stored at?

A: Mangoes ripen evenly between 18 and 22C. Hard green mangoes can be stored at 13C until they start to ripen, and ripe fruit can be cooled to 5C for about four days.