Introduction to Mango Farming
Mangoes (Mangifera indica) are a rocky tropical fruit of the Anacardiaceae family. More so, mangoes are native to South Asia but have spread throughout the world, particularly in the tropics. Additionally, mangoes differ in flesh color, size, skin color, taste, and shape depending on the variety.
In Kenya, mango cultivation is mainly done in the coastal and eastern parts of the country. Additionally, ripe fruits are eaten raw as desserts, processed into juices for refreshments, and making other products.
Mango has a tap-like deep root with roots anchoring around. Trees can grow up to 90 feet tall, but grafting has been introduced to create dwarf trees that begin bearing early. Mangoes produce simple leaves and are evergreen. Young leaves are pink, turning bright deep red, and dark green when mature. Flowers are produced in terminal racemes with 5 petals per flower. The fruit has a flat, elongated core and is fibrous or mossy.
Ecological Conditions Suitable for Mango Farming
For proper growth, development, and good yields, mangoes need the following climatic conditions:
Mangoes grow best when the average annual temperature is between 15 and 30 degrees Celsius.
Annual rainfall of 850-1000 mm is enough for mango cultivation. It should be noted that rain during flowering minimizes fruit setting. More so, once the plant feels good, it tolerates drought, especially when its main root can access the water table level.
Mango plants adapt to a wide range of soil types but prefer deep soil (at least 3 m) that is rich, well-drained, and has an optimum pH of 5.5 to 7.5.
Areas Suitable for Mango Farming in Kenya
Mango Farming is doing well in the Lower and Upper Midlands. The most suitable areas in Kenya are coastal areas, Murang’a, Thika, Taveta, Lower Embu, Machakos, Makueni, and Kitui.
Two types of mangoes are grown in Kenya, indigenous and exotic. The exotic mango is grafted onto local varieties. Mango local varieties grown in Kenya include
Exotic mango varieties
- Kent, among others.
In mango cultivation, propagation is mainly by seed, especially in local varieties. Exotic cultivars are obtained by successfully grafting grafts onto native rootstocks. This has led to the development of various dwarf trees. Addionally, at the time of planting, the distance between the rows can vary between 5 x 5 m and 8 x 8 m depending on the growth form of the variety.
Pruning is one of the most important management measures in mango cultivation. It is about removing dry, diseased, and thick strands, as well as excess foliage. This occurs each year after the fruiting season and opens the tree to ventilation and sunlight penetration, an important aspect of pest control.
Pests & Diseases
Mango Seed Weevil
Adults are dark brown with gray spots. They are 6 to 9 cm long and have the typical characteristics of a long-nosed weevil with a strong exoskeleton. The female weevil lays eggs on young fruit. After hatching from the eggs, the larvae penetrate the fruit through the pulp and reach the seeds, where they complete their life cycle.
Mango Gall fly
The pests cause the leaves to form warts, which reduce photosynthesis. Heavy infestation can lead to complete defoliation. Adults lay eggs in the tissue of young leaves. After the eggs hatch, the larvae burrow into the leaves and begin to form galls after 7 days.
They are small, soft-bodied insects that tend to accumulate in a cotton-like mass on mango plants. They feed on pests and their feeding activity causes slow plant growth and kills new branches and leaves. In case of heavy infestation, the resulting honeydew causes black mold on the leaves, fruits, and branches.
They are snail-like insects with a waxy, shell-like covering that hides their bodies. Therefore, they feed by sucking the sap from the plant and thereby robbing the plant of important nutrients. More so, they can weaken or even kill plants, especially in the early stages.
Thrips are small, elongated insects with fringed wings and distinctive asymmetrical mouths. They damage plants by piercing and sucking out their contents. More so, they cause cracking of the flowers and oxidation of the fruit.
Red spider mites
They are members of the Acari family. They usually live between holidays. Rotating protective grille. They cause damage by piercing plant cells and scarring young fruit.
Mango fruit fly
Female flies lay their eggs under the skin of the mango. White worms hatch from the eggs and feed on the fruit. This can cause the fruit to rot. Drosophila is currently the most important pest of mango.
Control: An integrated pest control approach should be implemented, keeping orchards clean and using pheromone traps are some of these approaches.
It affects the leaves and flowers of mango plants. It usually starts with a white dot. Affected plants appear covered in a white substance. If left unchecked, they can cause defoliation of young leaves and severe flower abortion.
It is a fungal infection that can affect the stems, leaves, flowers, or fruits. More so, it is characterized by dark sunken lesions on ripe fruits, and sunken chlorotic lesions on dried leaves or flowers.
This disease is characterized by wilting of the shoots from top to bottom on certain older plants, followed by wilting of the leaves, giving a fire-scorched appearance. If left unchecked, dieback can lead to the death of the entire tree.
To effectively control weeds in mango plantations, farmers must apply chemical weed control. This method is cheap and saves time. In chemical weed control, actively growing weeds are sprayed. The spray should not come into contact with the leaves or stems of the young trees.
Yield Per Acre
Mango yields vary greatly depending on the variability and agro-climatic conditions that prevail in an extreme region. Grafted mango trees begin to bear fruit in their second year. However, ghost trees can last 5-8 years. Fruits at the beginning of two to three years, yields are also only 10-20 fruits (2-3 kg) per tree, increasing to 50-75 fruits (10-15 kg) in subsequent years and about five hundred fruits in the tenth year (100 kg ). At the age of 20 to 40 years, a tree can produce 1,000 to 3,000 fruits (200 to 600 kg) per year. The productive age of grafted fruit trees is sometimes 40-50 years, during this period yields decrease.