Mango farming beginner guide

Introduction to Mango Farming

Mango (Mangifera indica) is a tropical fruit with a hard stone, belonging to the anacardiaceae family. Originally from South Asia, mangoes have spread across the globe, particularly in tropical regions. The various mango varieties exhibit differences in shape, size, taste, skin color, and flesh color.

In Kenya, mango cultivation is predominantly practiced in the eastern regions and along the coastal strip. Ripe mangoes are commonly enjoyed fresh as desserts or undergo processing to create fruit juices and other related products.

Plant Description

Mango trees possess a long taproot accompanied by extensive feeder and anchor roots. While mango trees can reach heights of up to 90 feet, dwarf varieties have been developed through grafting techniques to promote early fruit-bearing. The leaves of mango trees are simple in structure and retain their greenery throughout the year. Initially, young leaves display a pink hue, which gradually transitions to a glossy dark red or dark green shade as they mature. The trees produce flowers in clusters at the end of branches, with each small flower consisting of five petals. The fruits of mangoes contain a single, flat, oblong pit that can be fibrous or covered in hair-like structures.

Ecological Conditions Suitable for Mango Farming

To ensure optimal growth, development, and fruitful yields, mango trees thrive under specific climatic conditions, which include the following:

Temperatures

Mango trees thrive when exposed to an average annual temperature ranging from 15 to 30 degrees Celsius, providing the most favorable conditions for their growth.

Rainfall

For successful mango cultivation, an annual rainfall ranging between 850 to 1000 mm is considered adequate. It is important to note that excessive rainfall during the flowering season can hinder fruit setting. However, once the mango tree is firmly established, it displays a certain level of drought tolerance, particularly when its taproot reaches the water table.

Soils

Mango plants exhibit adaptability to various soil types, although they have a preference for deep soils that are fertile, well-drained, and have a minimum depth of 3 meters. The ideal soil pH range for mango cultivation is between 5.5 and 7.5, ensuring optimal conditions for growth.

Areas Suitable for Mango Farming in Kenya

Mango farming thrives in both lowland and upper midland areas. In Kenya, the most suitable regions for mango cultivation include the coastal areas, Murang’a, Thika, Taveta, Lower Embu, Machakos, Makueni, and Kitui. These locations provide favorable conditions for successful mango farming in the country.

Mango Varieties

In Kenya, mango farming involves the cultivation of two main types of varieties: local and exotic. The exotic mangoes are grafted onto the local varieties, resulting in improved characteristics. Among the mango varieties grown in Kenya, some popular local ones include:

  1. Dodo,
  2. Boribo,and
  3. Batawi.

The exotic mango varieties, on the other hand, encompass:

  1. Apple,
  2. Tommy and
  3. Kent, among others.

Propagation

In mango farming, the primary method of propagation, particularly for indigenous varieties, is through seeds. Exotic varieties, on the other hand, are obtained through successful grafting of a scion onto indigenous rootstock, resulting in the development of various dwarf tree varieties. When it comes to planting, the spacing requirements may vary, ranging from 5m by 5m to 8m by 8m, depending on the growth characteristics of the specific mango variety.

Pruning

Pruning is a crucial aspect of mango farming and ranks among the most vital management practices. It entails the removal of dry, diseased, and weak branches, as well as excessive foliage. This pruning activity is typically conducted annually, after the fruiting season. Its primary purpose is to enhance the tree’s aeration and allow for the penetration of sunlight. This aspect of mango tree management plays a significant role in controlling pests and diseases.

Pests & Diseases

Pests

Mango Seed Weevil

The adult weevils exhibit a dark brown color with distinct grey markings. They measure around 6 to 9 cm in length and possess the characteristic features of weevils, including a robust exoskeleton. The female weevils lay their eggs on young fruits, and upon hatching, the larvae penetrate the fruit flesh, tunneling their way to the seeds where they complete their life cycle.

To control these pests, it is recommended to apply a spray of Emerald® 200SL at a rate of 10 ml per 20 liters of water, Loyalty® 700 WDG at a rate of 5 g per 20 liters of water, or Lexus® 247SC at a rate of 8 ml per 20 liters of water. These treatments can aid in managing the weevil infestation.

Mango Gall fly

The pest infestation leads to the formation of wart-like galls on the leaves, which in turn reduces the efficiency of photosynthesis. In severe cases, the infestation can cause complete defoliation. The adult flies lay their eggs on the young leaf tissues, and upon hatching, the larvae burrow into the leaves, initiating gall formation within approximately 7 days.

To control this pest, it is recommended to spray a mixture of Lexus® 247SC at a rate of 8 ml per 20 liters of water, combined with Integra® at a rate of 3 ml. However, it is crucial to note that proper timing is vital for effective control, and the spraying should be carried out at the onset of flushing, when the new leaves are emerging.

Mealybugs

These insects are small and possess soft bodies, often gathering in clusters that resemble a cottony mass on mango plants. They are categorized as sucking pests, and their feeding habits can hinder plant growth, potentially causing damage to twigs and new leaves. In cases of severe infestation, the presence of honeydew can lead to the development of sooty mold on leaves, fruits, and twigs.

To control these pests, it is recommended to spray a solution of Emerald® 200SL at a rate of 10 ml per 20 liters of water or Lexus® 247SC at a rate of 8 ml per 20 liters of water, along with Integra® at a rate of 3 ml per 20 liters of water. This treatment can help manage the infestation effectively.

Mango scales

These insects resemble limpets and possess a protective, shell-like waxy covering that hides their bodies. They extract plant sap by sucking, depriving the plants of their vital nutrients. This feeding behavior weakens the plants and can lead to their deterioration or even death, particularly during the early stages of growth.

To control these pests, it is advised to apply a spray containing Emerald® 200SL at a rate of 10 ml per 20 liters of water or Loyalty® 700 WDG at a rate of 5 g per 20 liters of water, along with Integra® at a rate of 3 ml per 20 liters of water. This treatment can help effectively manage the infestation and protect the plants.

Thrips

Thrips are tiny, slim insects with delicate wings adorned with fringes, and they possess distinctive asymmetrical mouthparts. By puncturing and extracting the contents of plants, they inflict damage. This feeding behavior can result in flower abortion and leave fruits with scarred, rusty appearances.

To control thrips, it is recommended to spray a solution of Alonze® 50EC at a rate of 5 ml per 20 liters of water or Lexus® 247SC at a rate of 10 ml per 20 liters of water, combined with Integra® at a rate of 3 ml per 20 liters of water. This treatment can effectively manage the thrips infestation and safeguard the plants.

Red spider mites

These pests belong to the acari family and typically inhabit the undersides of leaves. They have the tendency to create protective silk webs. By puncturing plant cells and causing scarring on young fruits, they inflict damage.

To control these pests, it is advisable to spray a mixture of Alonze® 50EC at a rate of 5 ml per 20 liters of water, combined with Integra® at a rate of 3 ml per 20 liters of water. This treatment can effectively manage the infestation and help protect the plants from further damage.

Mango fruit fly

The female fruit fly deposits eggs beneath the skin of mango fruits. Upon hatching, the whitish maggots emerge and begin feeding on the fruit, leading to fruit decay and rot. Fruit flies are currently recognized as the most significant pests affecting mangoes.

To effectively manage this pest, an integrated approach is recommended. Keeping the orchard clean and implementing methods such as the use of pheromone traps can be beneficial.

In terms of chemical control, spraying the orchard with Pentagon® 50 EC at a rate of 10 ml per 20 liters of water, Lexus® 247SC at a rate of 8 ml per 20 liters of water, or Occasion Star® 200SC at a rate of 5 ml per 20 liters of water, along with Integra® at a rate of 3 ml per 20 liters of water, can be effective measures to combat fruit fly infestations.

Dieseases

Powdery mildew

This pest infestation targets both the leaves and flowers of mango plants. It typically begins with the appearance of white spots, giving the affected plants a dusty, white-coated appearance. If left unchecked, this infestation can result in the defoliation of young leaves and severe flower abortion.

To control this pest, it is recommended to spray the affected plants with Absolute® 375SC at a rate of 10 ml per 20 liters of water, Ransom® 600WP at a rate of 10 g per 20 liters of water, or Ducasse® 250EW at a rate of 20 ml per 20 liters of water. These treatments should be combined with the addition of Integra® at a rate of 3 ml per 20 liters of water. This integrated control approach can effectively manage the infestation and protect the mango plants.

Anthracnose

This fungal infection can impact various parts of the mango plant, including the stem, leaves, flowers, and fruits. It is characterized by the presence of dark, sunken lesions on ripe fruits, sunken chlorotic lesions on leaves, or the drying up of flowers.

To control this fungal infection, it is advised to apply Ransom® 600WP at a rate of 10 g per 20 liters of water or Absolute® 375SC at a rate of 10 ml per 20 liters of water. For enhanced effectiveness, incorporate Integra® at a rate of 3 ml per 20 liters of water into the spray solution. This control method can help manage the fungal infection and protect the health of the mango plant.

Die Back

This disease is identifiable by the gradual drying up of twigs, starting from the top and progressing downwards, particularly in older plants. The affected twigs are then followed by the drying of leaves, creating an appearance similar to that of fire scorch. If left uncontrolled, this condition, known as dieback, can eventually lead to the death of the entire tree.

To manage this disease, it is recommended to prune the affected twigs by removing them approximately 3 inches below the infection site. Additionally, spraying the plant with Green Cop® 500WP at a rate of 50 g per 20 liters of water or Trinity Gold® 452WP at a rate of 50 g per 20 liters of water can aid in controlling the disease. These measures will help mitigate the impact of dieback and preserve the health of the mango tree.

Weed Control

To efficiently control weeds in mango orchards, farmers should employ chemical weed control methods. This approach proves to be cost-effective and time-saving. Chemical weeding entails the application of Catapult® 480 SL by spraying 200 ml per 20 liters of water onto actively growing weeds. However, it is crucial to ensure that the spray does not come into contact with the leaves or stems of young trees. By implementing these practices, farmers can effectively manage weeds and maintain the health of their mango orchards.

Flowering and Nutrition

During the flowering stage, mango trees require significant amounts of potassium to stimulate flowering, promote flower retention, and ensure healthy fruit development. Insufficient potassium levels can result in a high rate of flower abortion and hinder the proper setting and development of fruits. To address this issue, farmers should apply Goldchance Flower and Fruit at a rate of 50g per 20 liters of water. This spray should be administered on a weekly basis, starting from the emergence of flower buds. By following this practice, farmers can enhance the flowering and fruiting processes of their mango trees.

Nutritional Deficiency

Potassium deficiency

This condition is distinguished by the scratching of the leaf margins, which begins at the top of the leaf and progresses downward. As a result, the quality of the fruit is significantly diminished.

To control this issue, it is recommended to spray Goldchance Flower and Fruit at a rate of 50 g per 20 liters of water. This treatment can help address the condition and mitigate the impact on both the leaves and the fruit.

Boron deficiency

This condition is identified by the occurrence of flower abortion and the development of fruit cracking. Additionally, brown areas may be visible within the yellow fruit pulp.

To control this issue, it is advised to spray Vitabor Gold® at a rate of 30 ml per 20 liters of water. This treatment can help address the problem, promoting healthy flower development and reducing fruit cracking.

Zinc deficiency

Mango plants that suffer from zinc deficiency exhibit small leaves with margins that bend either upwards or downwards.

To address this deficiency, it is recommended to spray Zinc Gold® at a rate of 10 ml per 20 liters of water. This treatment helps supply the necessary zinc to the plants, promoting healthy leaf development.

Important Note: When conducting the spraying, it is advisable to include Integra® at a rate of 3 ml per 20 liters of water. Integra® serves as a wetter, sticker, penetrant, and spreader, enhancing the effectiveness of the chemicals applied during the spray.

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