June 10, 2011

Mango Mania- Coming Soon to a Neighborhood Near You

'Haden' Mango, one the most prolific commercial varieties

Over the last few weeks, several counties in South Florida have seen record fruit-set on their mango trees. This happens when we've had the weather we experienced last year and the year before: periods of cold weather followed by months of dry sunny weather from January to April, perfect for the abundant production of  flowers. This weather combination allows for good insect pollination and the lack of rain allows the flowers to turn into fruit without rotting off in rainstorms. 

'Carrie' Mango, one of the sweetest tasting
mango varieties

The dilemma is that when mango trees set a lot of fruit, they often set a LOT of fruit, sometimes more than can be eaten or sold. ( What a dilemma, I say). I sometimes get a question from newcomers to the area about how many mango trees can be put on a half-acre lot. My answer is "3". They respond that they REALLY love mangoes, and would like to buy 10 or 12 trees for their lot. My return question is "can you really eat 1000 pounds of fruit in one season....? " There is often dead silence on the other end of the phone.

Back in August 2010, I wrote a blog about Dwarf Mango trees for small spaces. Many residents in this part of the state can handle a large tree, and some may even want a large growing mango. For them, there are hundreds of varieties, and there is a wide range of atstes for the fruit as well.

'Keitt' Mango, one of the largest mango fruit varieties-
easily weighing 3 pounds or more per fruit
a commercial variety, excellent taste, fiberless and sweet

There are so many excellent mango varieties available for this area that the hardest choice to make is which varieties to plant. There are several mango tasting festivals in the South Florida area during Summer, and the trees are readily available for sale. There are varieties to suit your taste, garden size, and to a smaller degree, fruiting season. Mango trees will set fruit from may to September, occasionally October. Some of the commercial varieties ( used in large scale mango production) can set several hundred pounds of fruit per tree. The so-called "dooryard" or "condo" mango varieties will still set 50-200 pounds of fruit per tree on a smaller-stature  tree.

For best fruit set and the healthiest tree, mango trees need all-day sunlight, some protection from hard frost, well drained soil, and low-analysis fruit tree fertilizer 3 times per year at most. Many local experts suggest a "tough love" style of culture for the trees, meaning that the tree does not need to be over-cultivated. Give the trees the intense sun they require, great soil drainage, and an occasional fertilizing, then let Mother Nature do her thing.

Craig Morell
Pinecrest Gardens

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