1. When is Mango Season?
Mangoes usually fruit between May-October. Some varieties tend to fruit early in the season (Hayden, Rosigold, Florigold). Some are late ( Zillate, Keitt, Neelum). Cooler areas tend be delayed by several weeks. Often when there are off season fruit, it is because we have usual weather - more rain at odd times of the year or long dry seasons.
2. What mango is best to grow on my property?
Mangoes generally do best in areas with lots of sun and periods of dryness. Locations with water year round tend not to fruit as well. Some varieties like Florigon, Laleliwa can produce in wet areas. Small properties and windy areas do best with dwarf varieties. There are even varieties developed for condominiums and pots such as Fairchild, Cogshall. Ask the nursery in your area what is available and best for that environment.
3. How do I prune my tree?
Small trees can be tip pruned to encourage branching and restrict upward growth. There are many great examples of pruning on YouTube. Midsized trees can be pruned just after harvest of most fruit. One's emphasis should be on controlling upward growth and allowing light and airflow into the bottom and center of tree to keep lower growth healthy. In addition to pruning, a great alternative to "cutting back" can be bending branches in the direction you desire them to grow. There are also many great examples on YouTube concerning this subject. Large trees do best if not more than 25% of the leaves are removed each year. Opening the top to allow light down the center helps the lower section to grow. A follow up prune can remove upward growth on the sides and control excessive branching. Do this in the following years.
4. How should I fertilize?
Young plants especially when just planted need loose, fertile, and moist soil to get established. A well balanced fertilizer according to recommendations is not a bad idea. Be careful not to over fertilize. Once the tree is established and you are seeking fruit, be extra careful not to over fertilize. Keep nitrogen application low, less than 10. Potassium and calcium are often at low levels during this time and might need a boost. A soil sample or tissue analysis would be the best way to determine what fertilizer is needed - The University of Hawaii offers this service. Fertilizing after the initial fruit set and after pruning is often a good idea.
5. Why do I not have flowers?
If your tree is mature and is not flowering the most likely reason is too much water and fertilizer. Mango trees need approximately 3 to 6 months of rest before flowering. If your tree is busy growing new leaves it is likely there is not enough reserve in the tree to flower. Cut back on water and fertilizer.
6. Why do I get flowers but no fruit?
If you get flowers but no fruit, take a close look at the flowers. Powdery mildew and Anthracnose are common diseases that attack flowers. Control needs to be done early, before the flower buds emerge. Interestingly some varieties of mango are more resistant to these issues, so if you continue to have trouble consider switching to a more resistant variety.
7. How often should I water the tree?
Mango trees can tolerate a lot of water, but like to be dry for several months before flowering. Once flowers emerge and the fruit are developing, water only to keep the ground from getting too dry. If you cannot sense any moisture it may be too dry. Soak soil enough to get the water down one foot into the soil. Do not water again until the soil is dry again.
8. Can I change the mango variety on the tree?
If your mango tree is not producing fruit that you like, try to improve the growing conditions . If that does not work consider changing to a different variety. This is called "top work". This involves grafting a cutting from a selected variety. A good nursery person should be able to do this, and we can help here.
9. What happens if I plant a mango by seed?
Planting a mango by seed will usually result in a plant that is genetically different from the fruit it came from. In many cases the fruit will be very different and perhaps inferior even. Some mango, many with elongated fruit, will produce fruit identical to the parent fruit. However, it will take many years to see a result - upwards of 8 years or so before it will fruit. It is recommended to take a graft or air layer from the tree you seek to grow instead.
10. How do I condition the soil?
Application of plant mulch material under the tree helps improve the soil and retain moisture. A 6" inch depth will keep weeds and grass from growing and competing with the tree for nutrients. Be careful to leave some space near the trunk.
11. When should I pick fruit?
The longer the fruit stays on the tree the sweeter and more flavorful it will be. Ideally I wait until the fruit start to fall off the tree before I pick. However, if there are fruit eating birds and wind then I suggest you pick earlier.
12. What can I do with extra fruit?
If you have more fruit than you can eat, then give to you neighbors, friends, coworkers, and family. This is a great way to build good will and spread happiness. You can also freeze, dehydrate, and can the extra fruit. Google "what to do with extra mango" and all sorts of creative ideas and recipes will pop right up. You can also sell the fruit at the farmers market or to a wholesaler such as ourselves.
13. What varieties are best?
There are hundreds of varieties in Hawaii . You can also order from nurseries in other states and overseas. Be careful that import rules to Hawaii are being followed by those shippers, as pest control is a critical issue here. Some factors to consider when choosing your variety: The taste of the fruit, the space you have available to grow the tree, and the moisture level on your property.
Click here for more information on mango information including varieties available on the farm: http://www.shareyourtable.com/get_fresh/2008/unpeeled