It’s mango season!
If you are a fan of mangos, then July in Southwest Florida must be a favorite time of year. If you are lucky and have a healthy mango tree in your yard, then you may feel like you are in mango heaven! A mature mango tree can produce four to six bushels of mangos per season. At 50 to 60 mangos a bushel, one tree can supply fruit to make numerous mango delicacies, leaving plenty to share with friends and neighbors.
If you are exploring a new planting, there are several cultivars of mango available. Some preliminary selection factors to consider include: size and space required by the tree at maturity and available within your landscape, resistance to diseases and pests, and most importantly, the taste and texture desired in the fruit.
It is important to choose a healthy tree from a reputable nursery, free from pests, diseases and wounds on the trunk. Plant in full sun and in well-draining soil. Avoid low areas that tend to remain damp as mango trees do not like “wet feet.” Fertilization and irrigation schedules are dependent on the age of the tree with more frequent applications required for new and young trees. As mango trees mature, little or no nitrogen is needed while increased potassium and other micronutrients are recommended. (Crane, Wasielewski, Balerdi, & Maguire, 2020, March)
Mango trees vary in height and width depending on the cultivar. Some known as “Condo Mango Trees” are small enough to grow in containers. Others can grow to be 100 feet tall and are best pruned each season to allow for an easier harvest. Choose a tree that is right for your yard, making sure that large mango trees are not planted near electric lines, other trees or your home.
When choosing a mango tree for your home landscape, carefully consider its susceptibility to Anthracnose and powdery mildew, two common diseases in some mango varieties. Anthracnose is a fungal disease that first appears on the flower clusters as small dark spots. These spots may expand and enlarge on the leaves and fruit resulting in fruit rot and lower yields. Haden and Irwin varieties are more susceptible to Anthracnose and require a strong fungicide program. Mango varieties with a moderate resistance to Anthracnose are Carrie, Edward, Glenn and Tommy Atkins, to name a few. This may make them better choices for the home garden.
Powdery mildew, another fungal disease, appears as a white powdery growth on the flower clusters, the underside of the leaves and young fruit. It results in early fruit drop, but can be controlled with a fungicide treatment. For more detailed information including pictures of mango disease symptoms, please see the article by Pernezny and Ploetz (March, 2000) cited below.
On another cautionary note, mango trees are in the same botanical family as poison ivy. The sap from the tree contains an oil that may cause contact dermatitis. Fortunately, the flesh of the fruit does not contain this oil. If you experience a sensitivity while picking or cutting the fruit, wear gloves and clean utensils and work surfaces afterwards.
The most popular factor for choosing a cultivar of a mango tree is the taste and texture of the mango fruit. A quick search on the Internet generates numerous descriptors of the mango fruit: sweet, juicy, tropical, and a cross between a peach and a pineapple. There are so many varieties, each with its own unique taste that descriptors are endless. In my opinion, the easiest way to discover your favorite mango is to attend a mango festival or visit one of the many mango farms in Florida. Fortunately, in Lee County we have an opportunity to taste a variety of mangos at the upcoming mango festival on Pine Island.
This year, the Pine Island Mini-Mango Mania event will be held July 17 at the Fishers of Men Lutheran Church, 10360 Stringfellow Road, St. James City. Event hours will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Enjoy the day exploring many varieties of mangos, tasting numerous recipes and discovering your favorite mango. Then add this tree to your garden to harvest delicious fruit for years to come.
Happy gardening and bon appétit!
Deborah Haggett is a Lee County Master Gardener Volunteer and a member of the Garden Club of Cape Coral. Visit us at www.gardenclubofcapecoral.com
Crane, J. H., Wasielewski, J., Balerdi, C. F., & Maguire, I. (2020, March). HS2/MG216: Mango Growing in the Florida Home Landscape. Edis.Ifas.Ufl.Edu. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/ MG216
Pernezny, K., &Ploetz, R. (2000, March). Some Common Diseases of Mango in Florida. Ifas.Ufl.Edu. https://plantpath.ifas.ufl.edu/misc/media/factsheets/pp0023.pdf