Tips on growing mangoes on your farm

A farmer displays his mangos. Photo / Courtesy

What you need to know:

  • During the early development of the mango tree (in the first four years), a regular supply of compost and green manure can be provided to improve the foliar development. During flowering, application of organic fertilisers should be applied so that enough nutrients are available for fruit formation and fruit development.

A mango is an evergreen fruit tree locally known as “omuyembe”. The tree is so pronounced in tropical and subtropical regions of the world.

The mango tree is one of the most widely distributed fruit trees in Uganda. It flourishes in districts that are too dry for orange growing.

Common varieties

In Uganda, we have mainly three types of mangoes grown and these include;

Small canopy; some of the small canopy types include Florigon, Glenn, Dancan, Early Gold, Erwin, Palmar, and Paivin.

Medium canopy and fairly early yielding varieties such as Zillate, Pinero, Alfonso, Apple, Kent, and Keitt.

The large canopy and fairly early yielding varieties such as Boribo, Ssejjembe, Bire, Ssu, and Kate.

Soil requirements

Mangoes can be grown successfully on a wide range of soils. The tree will do well in moderately fertile soils with good drainage, with a pH range between 5.5 and 7.5.

Propagation

Mangoes can be propagated both sexually and asexually, i.e. sexual propagation would involve growing a mango tree out of the seed.

The trees however, would take about seven to 15 years. Asexual propagation is mainly done using grafting.

Grafted trees start bearing as early as three years and will produce more uniform fruits.

Planting

Here we explain how you get your mango seedling by grafting. The process will contain the following steps;

Step 1: Veneer grafting

Selecting the scion and root stock to use in joining is the most important thing during grafting.

The root stock for grafting is obtained from seeds sown in the nursery or in the polybag containing manured top soil.

And the scion is got from the terminal shoot of a proposed parent mango tree, and must be about three months old. Defoliate the shoot 10 days before removing it from the parent tree.

At this stage, the petiole stubs will have dropped and the buds shall have started to bulge. To graft make 5cm long slanting cut at the proximal end of the scion stick cut from the parent mango tree.

Make a similar cut on the root stock so that both fit well without any air space in between. After joining the two, tie them lightly with a polythene tape.

In three weeks, the scion will have started to sprout, at this stage cut off the upper part of the rootstock.

In a month and a half, the scion will have grown sufficiently, so cut the stock again just above the point of union and the graft is ready for transplant.

It is essential that you keep the graft wet for proper rooting and seedling establishment.

Step 2: Transplanting

A medium fine field is adequate, dig holes 60cm deep and 60 cm wide while separating the top soil from the sub soils.

Mix well the decomposed manure with top soil at a ratio of 1:1, put the mixture back in to the hole to cover the first 30 cm.

Make a small hole with in the hole and plant in the grafted seedling.

The plastic bags used for potting should be removed before planting.

When covering the hole of the soil make a basin around each plant to enable water harvesting.

Mulch each plant and cage it with small sticks to avoid damage by animals and the strong winds.

One month after transplanting, the grafting tape should be removed. Shoots growing below the point of union should also be removed.

When the tree starts bearing watch out for the mango fruit fly. This is a maggot which burrows through the mango fruit and also the mango seed weevil.

Harvesting

The mango starts maturing at 90 days and reach full maturity in 120 to 135 days after flower induction.

However earlier fruit ripening and dropping may occur on the tree. Ripening is faster in hotter areas than in cooler areas. Hand picking is the commonest method for mango harvesting, but it is difficult and time consuming for large orchards.

The best time for harvesting the fruits would be between 9am to 3pm as at this time the tree and fruits are dry and latex flow is minimal.

For faster fruiting the following season, induce the tree to flush by irrigating and fertilising with a higher dosage of nitrogen fertilisers mixed with foliar organic fertiliser.

Market

Mangoes have a constant market as consumers demand for them any time of the year.

Most farmers can sell their mangoes at national markets such as Nakasero, local stall, the supermarkets, and fruit processing companies.

You can also export your mangoes to neighbouring countries such as Rwanda, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania and Congo.

Pruning

 In mango growing, the most critical pruning is the frame formation or formative pruning to produce a spreading framework or canopy which forms the fruit bearing surface (dense canopy). In the first year, when the trees have grown to over 1m above the ground, trim at 0.90-1.0m from ground to encourage side branches. In year two, leave four to five well-spread branches to be future scaffolds on which the bearing surface will develop.

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