Mango is the leading fruit crop of India and considered to be the king of fruits. Besides delicious taste, excellent flavour and attractive fragrance, it is rich in vitamin A&C. The tree is hardy in nature and requires comparatively low maintenance costs.
Mango occupies 22% of the total under fruits comprising of 1.2 million hectares, with a total production of 11 million tonnes. Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh are having the largest area under mango each with around 25% of the total area followed by Bihar, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Mango fruit is utilised at all stages of its development both in its immature and mature state. Raw fruits are used for making chutney, pickles and juices. The ripe fruits besides being used for desert are also utilised for preparing several products like squashes, syrups, nectars, jams and jellies. The mango kernel also contains 8-10 percent good quality fat which can be used for soap and also as a substitute for cola in confectionery.
Fresh mangoes and mango pulp are the important items of agri-exports from India. India's main export destinations for mango are USA and other Middle East countries with a limited quantity being shipped to European market. Although, India is the largest mango producing country, accounting about 60% of world production, the export of fresh fruit is limited to Alphonso and Dashehari varieties. India's share in the world mango market is about 15 percent. Mango accounts for 40 percent of the total fruit exports from the country. There is good scope for increasing the area and productivity of mango in the country.
Mango can be grown under both tropical and sub-tropical climate from sea level to 1400 m altitude, provided there is no high humidity, rain or frost during the flowering period. Places with good rainfall and dry summer are ideal for mango cultivation. It is better to avoid areas with winds and cyclones which may cause flower and fruit shedding and breaking of branches.
Mango comes up on a wide range of soils from alluvial to laterite provided they are deep (minimum 6') and well drained. It prefers slightly acidic soils (pH 5.5 to 7.5)
Though there are nearly 1000 varieties of mango in India, only following varieties are grown in different states : Alphonso, Bangalora, Banganpalli, Bombai, Bombay Green, Dashehari, Fazli, Fernandin, Himsagar, Kesar, Kishen Bhog,Langra, Mankhurd, Mulgoa, Neelam, Samarbehist, Chausa, Suvarnarekha, Vanaraj and Zardalu.
Recently some mango hybrids have been released for cultivation by different institutes / universities. A brief introduction to such varieties is presented below :
It is a cross between Neelam and Dashehari. Fruits are medium sized cadmium coloured with good quality, reported to be a regular bearer.
It is a cross between Dashehari and Neelam. It is a dwarf vigorous type with regular and late bearing variety. It yields on an average 16 t/ha and about 1600 plants can be accommodated in one hectare.
It is a cross between Rumani and Neelam. It is a semi vigorous type with a regular bearing habit. Fruits are medium sized with light yellow coloured skin, firm and fibreless flesh and sweet to taste.
It is a cross between Neelam and Alphonso. It is a regular bearer and free from spongy tissue. Fruits are medium sized with excellent quality. Flesh is firm and fibreless, deep orange in colour with high TSS (19-21 Brix).
It is a hybrid between Banganapalli and Alphonso with regular bearing habit and dwarf in stature. About 400 plants can be accommodated per hectare. Fruits are large sized (500-700 gm) with attractive skin colour. Pulp is fibreless, sweet to taste (20-22 Brix). Pulp percentage is 73 and the fruits are free from spongy tissue.
It is a regular and prolific bearing hybrid of the cross between Alphonso and the Banganapalli. Fruits are medium sized (220-250 gm) with attractive skin colour, having red blush. Pulp is free from fibre, pulp percentage being 70 percent. Fruits are sweet to taste (20-22 Brix) with good keeping quality and free from spongy tissue. It is a good variety for processing also.
It is a semi-vigorous plant type from the cross between Alphonso and Janardhan Pasand. It is also a regular bearing and free from spongy tissues. Fruits ripen to uniform yellow colour. Keeping quality of the fruit is very good and it is suitable for export. It has got excellent sugar and acid blend and fruits weigh on an average about 300 g Pulp is orange in colour.
Farmers should always get vegetatively propagated, true to type plants from recognised nurseries. Inarching, veneer grafting, side grafting and epicotyl grafting are the popular methods of propagation in mango.
Land should be prepared by deep ploughing followed by harrowing and levelling with a gentle slope for good drainage. Spacing varies from 10 m x 10 m, in the dry zones where growth is less, to 12 m x 12 m, in heavy rainfall areas and rich soils where abundant vegetative growth occurs. New dwarf hybrids like Amrapali can be planted at closer spacing. Pits are filled with original soil mixed with 20-25 kg well rotten FYM, 2.5 kg single super phosphate and 1 kg muriate of potash.
One year old healthy, straight growing grafts from reliable sources can be planted at the centre of pits along with the ball of the earth intact during rainy season in such a way that the roots are not expanded and the graft union is above the ground level. Plants should be irrigated immediately after planting. In the initial one or two years, it is advisable to provide some shade to the young plants and also stake to make them grow straight.
Young plants are watered frequently for proper estalbishment. In case of grown up trees, irrigation at 10 to 15 days interval from fruit set to maturity is beneficial for improving yield. However, irrigation is not recommended for 2-3 months prior to flowering as it is likely to promote vegetative growth at the expense of flowering.
Inter crops such as vegetables, legumes, short duration and dwarf fruit crops like papaya, guava, peach, plum, etc. depending on the agro-climatic factors of the region can be grown. The water and nutrient requirements of the inter crops must be met separately.
Harvesting and yield
The yield of mango varies greatly, depending upon the variety and agro-climatic conditions prevailing in a region.
Grafted mango trees start bearing from the fifth year onward. However, seedling trees may take 8-10 years.
At the start of bearing at the age of 3 - 4 years the yield may be as low as 10-20 fruits (2-3 kg) per tree, rising to 50-75 fruits (10-15 kg) in the subsequent years, and to about 500 fruits (100 kg) in its tenth year. In the age group-20- 40 years, a tree bears 1,000-3,000 fruits (200-600 kg) in an ''on'' year. The productive age of a grafted mango tree is usually 40-50 years, after which the yield declines.
Post Harvest Management
Shelf life of mangoes being short (2 to 3 weeks) they are cooled as soon as possible to storage temperatue of 13 degree Celcius. A few varieties can withstand storage temperature of 10 degree Celcius. Steps involved in post harvest handling include preparation, grading, washing, drying, waxing, packing, pre-cooling, palletisation and transportation.
Mangoes are generally packed in corrugated fibre board boxes 40 cm x 30 cm x 20cm in size. Fruits are packed in single layer 8 to 20 fruits per carton. The boxes should have sufficient number of air holes (about 8% of the surface area) to allow good ventillation.
Financial institutions have also formulated mango financing schemes in potential areas for expansion of area under mango. Individual mango development schemes with farm infrastructure facilities like well, pumpset, fencing and drip irrigation system etc. have also been considered.