Introduction to Mango Farming
Mango (Mangifera indica) is a stony tropical fruiting the family anacardiaceae. Mangoes are native to South Asia but have been distributed worldwide especially in the tropics. Mangoes vary in Shape,size,taste, skin colour and the colour of the flesh as per the different varieties.
In Kenya, mango farming is done mostly in the eastern parts of the country and the coastal strip. Ripe fruits are consumed raw as desserts, or processed into fruit juices as and other products.
Mangoes have a deep taproot with wide spread feeder roots and anchor roots. Trees may grow up to 90ft tall but grafting has been used to develop dwarf trees that start bearing early. Mangoes produce simple leaves and remain evergreen. Young leaves appear pink in colour changing to dark glossy red and dark green when mature. Flowers are produced in terminal panicles with each small flower having 5 petals. Fruits have single flat oblong pit that is fibrous or hairy.
Ecological Conditions Suitable for Mango Farming
For proper growth,development and good bearing, mangoes require the following climatic conditions:
Mango do best on average annual temperature of between 15 to 30 degrees Celsius.
Annual rainfall of 850 to 1000 mm is sufficient for mango cultivation. It should be noted that rainfall during flowering season reduces fruit setting. After the plant is well established it can tolerate drought especially when its tap root reaches the water table.
Mango plants are adapted to many soil types but prefer deep(at least 3m) soils that are fertile and well drained with optimum PH of 5.5 to 7.5.
Areas Suitable for Mango Farming in Kenya
Mango Faming does well in low land to upper midland areas. Most suitable areas in Kenya include coastal areas, Murang’a, Thika,Taveta, Lower Embu, Machakos, Makueni and Kitui.
There are two types of mango varieties grown in Kenya i.e. the local and the exotic varieties. Exotic mangoes are grafted on the local varieties. Local mango varieties grown in Kenya include
While the exotic varieties include
- Tommy and
- Kent, among others.
In mango farming, propagation is primarily done by seeds especially for the indigenous varieties. Exotic varieties are obtained by successfully grafting a scion on the indigenous rootstock. This leads to development of the various dwarf trees. During planting, spacing may vary from 5m by 5m to 8m by 8m depending on the growth habit of the variety.
Pruning is one of the most important management practices in mango farming. It involves removal of dry, diseased and week beaches, as well as excess foliage. This is done yearly after the fruiting season and it opens up the trees for aeration and penetration of sun rays, this is an important aspect in management of pests and diseases.
Pests & Diseases
Mango Seed Weevil
Adults are dark brown with grey markings. They are 6 to 9 cm long and possess typical features of weevils with strong exoskeleton. The female weevil lays eggs on young fruits. After the egg hatches the larvae tunnels in to the fruit through the flesh and reaches the seeds where they complete the life cycle.
Mango Gall fly
The pest causes the leaf to produce wart-like galls resulting to reduced photosynthesis. Severe infestation can result to total defoliation. Adult fly lays eggs on the young leaf tissues. Once the eggs hatches the larvae burrow in the leaf and gall formation begins in 7 days.
Note: Proper timing is very crucial and this should be done at the onset of flushing.
They are tinny soft bodied insects which tend to mass together in to a cottony looking mass on mango plants. They are sucking pests and their feeding activities cause slow plant growth and can kill twigs and new leaves. Heavy infestation lead to sooty mould on leaves, fruits and twigs as a result of honeydew produced.
They are limpet-like insects with shell-like waxy covering which conceals their body. They feed by sucking the plant sap hence robbing plants their essential nutrients. They weaken or even kill the plant especially at the early stages.
Thrips are slender, minute insects with fringed wings and unique asymmetrical mouth parts. They cause damage to plants by puncturing and sucking their contents. They lead to flower abortion and scaring rusty appearance on fruits.
Red spider mites
They are members of acari family. They generally live on the underside of the leave. May spin protective silk web. They cause damage by puncturing plant cells and scarring the young fruit.
Mango fruit fly
The female fly lays eggs under the skin of mango fruit. Eggs hatch into whitish maggots which feeds on the fruit. This leads to rotting of the fruits. Fruit flies are currently the most important pests of mangoes.
Control: An integrated approach should be employed to manage the pest, keeping the orchard clean and use of pheromone traps are some of the methods.
Affects leaves, and flowers of mango plants. Usually starts off as white spots. Affected plants look as if they have been dusted with white substance. They lead to defoliation of young leaves and severe flower abortion if not controlled.
It’s a fungal infection which may affect the stem, leaves, flowers or even the fruit. It is characterized by dark sunken lesions on ripe fruits, sunken chlorotic lesions on leaves or drying up of flowers.
This disease is characterized by drying up of twigs from top to bottom of particular older Plants followed by drying of the leaves which give an appearance of fire scorch. If left uncontrolled, dieback can lead to death of the whole tree.
In order to manage weeds effectively in mango orchards farmers should practice chemical weed control. This method is cost effective and saves time. Chemical weeding involves spraying Catapult® 480 SL 200 ml/20l to actively growing weeds. The spray should not come into contact with leaves or stems of young trees.
Flowering and Nutrition
During flowering, mangoes need high amounts of potassium to trigger flowering, flower retention and good development of fruits. Inadequate potassium leads to heavy flower abortion and unhealthy fruit set and development. To curb this farmers should spray Goldchance Flower and Fruit 50g/20L, weekly, right from the appearance of flower buds.
It is characterized by scratching of leaf margin which starts from the top downwards. Fruit quality is highly reduced.
Control: Spray Goldchance Flower and Fruit 50 g/20l
It is characterized by flower abortion, and also cracking of fruits. Brown areas can also be seen in yellow fruit pulp
Control: Spray Vitabor Gold® 30 ml/20l
Mango plants with zinc deficiency develop small leaves with margin bend either upwards or down wards.
Control: Spray Zinc Gold® 10 ml/20l
NB: During spraying, always use Integra® 3 ml/20L, Integra® is a wetter,sticker penetrant and spreader that improves efficacy of the chemicals.