Indian River County Extension Service
1028 20th Pl, Suite D
Vero Beach, FL 32960
15 May 2002
FOR RELEASE:19 May 2002
Daniel F. Culbert, County Extension Director
MANGOS FOR INDIAN RIVER DOORYARDS
I’ve lived in the Indian River area almost ten years, having moved here from West Palm Beach. One of the outstanding features of my old yard was two fifty foot tall Hayden Mango trees. My family enjoyed this taste of the tropics. Upon my relocation to Vero Beach, I considered planting Mango trees here, but decided against it because the chance of a freeze was too great.
In the meantime, many other homeowners added Mango trees to their Indian River Yards, and they produced fruit three to five years after planting. With intensive lobbying from my family, I recently decided to plant a mango tree, and hope that the inevitable freeze will stay away long enough to enjoy this most delicious of tropical dooryard fruits.
Today’s column will review basic information on mango culture. Information for today’s column comes from University of Florida’s Bulletin on Mangos produced by Extension Specialist Jon Crane.
A Large Tree
Mangos originated in India and Southeastern Asia, having been grown there for thousands of years. They were introduced into Florida in the early 1800's. When living in West Palm Beach, I learned that a Captain Hayden took some mangos from the Elbridge Gale homestead one block from my old house, threw the pits in a compost pile in Miami, where David Fairchild later discovered the attributes of the delicious Hayden variety of Mango. The full story is available upon request.
Despite the damage caused by Hurricane Andrew, there still remains some commercial Mango production in southern Florida. Homeowners have found the Mango easy to grow as a dooryard tree. A noticeable draw back that must be mentioned about the mango: it is related to poison ivy, and some people exhibit the same kind of skin rashes from mangos that occur with that dreaded vine. The irritating oils are in the skin, and if a non-sensitive person peels the fruit, a rash-sensitive person can still enjoy this queen fruit of the tropics.
Mango trees could reach 100 feet tall, but it’s doubtful that they will exceed 30 feet where subjected to periodic freezes. Give them plenty of room to grow , at least 30 feet from other trees, and place them in areas that offer the greatest protection from cold northwestern exposures. Their evergreen foliage is quite attractive, with spear-tip shaped leaves growing to lengths from 6 to 12 inches long, and new leaves appearing pink to red in color.
Flowers form on the ends of the branches in the late fall, and erupt into yellow to pink clusters from December to April. Because of the timing of flowering, tender young mangos have been know to freeze, eliminating that year’s crop of fruit. Insects pollinate the flowers, and fruit will mature between May and September, depending on the variety.
Mango fruit vary in shape (from nearly round to oval), size (from few ounces to more than five pounds) and color (green, yellow, red, orange, or purple) depending upon the variety. The smooth leathery skin surrounds the pale-yellow to deep-orange edible flesh of the fruit. They have a single seed that is enclosed in a woody husk.
There are two main types of mango, the Indian and the Indochinese. Indian types are often highly colored fruit, but are susceptible to a fungus disease called anthracnose. This disease can blacken the mango’s skin and cause the inside of the fruit to break down. Most commercial Florida varieties are Indian types.
Indochinese types often lack attractive coloration, but they are relatively resistant to anthracnose. Florida varieties of this group are not grown commercially, but they are appreciated in home plantings. There are other mangos which do not fit in either of these types. For example, the 'Turpentine' mango, so-named for its difficult taste, is often used as the rootstock for our grafted mango trees.
Use of grafted trees is important. Seedling trees may have desirable or superior fruit traits, but are you willing to wait for seven years to find out? Grafted trees are clones of know types, grown of the roots of other cultivars such as the Number 11 or Turpentine varieties that can handle our local conditions. Look for the tell-tale "dog-leg" graft union 3 to 4 inches above the ground. Local nurseries and garden centers have limited numbers of grafted mango trees available. Check carefully to see if the variety is named. A recent check revealed a price range of $36 to $75 for grafted trees in three to seven gallon containers. Be on the lookout for plant sales sponsored by horticultural groups for more unusual mango varieties.
Given that local homeowners would prefer disease resistant mangos with good fruit production, and that most would prefer colorful fruit, the best variety choices would include Florigon, Saigon, Van Dyke, Tommy Atkins, or Keitt. My delicious old-time favorite, the Hayden, is too susceptible to disease and bears erratically from one year to the next. (I chose a Tommy Atkins.) If you want to extend your picking season, you can plant more than one of these varieties, and have mangos from May through September.
Growing Mango Trees
Pruning of young trees is usually not necessary. Irrigation of newly planted trees and during dry periods when fruit is developing will greatly benefit mango trees. Young trees should start out receiving one quarter pound of fertilizer every two months during the first year, and gradually increase the amount to one pound. For mature trees, apply no more than 20 to 35 pounds per tree of a mixed fertilizer, split into two to four applications per year. Fertilizer mixtures containing 6-6-6, 8-8-8, 10-10-10, and 8-3-9 are appropriate. Mango trees grown in coastal sands soils should also receive copper, zinc, boron and manganese for the first five years. Check our offices for more details.
Mangos are relatively pest free, but dooryard growers should be on the lookout for some common pests and be prepared to deal with them if infestations are severe. The most important insect pests on Florida mangos are mites, scale insects and thrips. These pests seldom limit fruit production.
Common mango diseases include anthracnose, powdery mildew, alga spot, and verticillium wilt. Anthracnose is the one to worry about. Rather than put up with premature fruit drop, black rotting spots on fruit, and rapid decay of picked fruit, choose mango varieties with resistance to this disease. The alternative is to keep a coating of approved fungicides sprayed from the beginning of flowering until the fruit are about half size. Are you willing to keep his up with this spray program for two to three months?
Although mangos will ripen on the tree, commercial fruit is considered mature when the shoulder of the fruit fills out and color has begun to change from green to yellow. Some people pick and enjoy the fruit while still green, using it in chutneys or even dousing it with hot sauce. Mangos are picked by hand or by using a long picking pole. Mature fruits ripen three to eight days after harvest. The best temperatures for ripening mangos are from 70 to 75 degrees F. In Florida, minimum yields of 4 bushels (220 lbs) are common from mature trees.
Our office can supply you with copies of the UF bulletin on Mangos, Insect Management in Mango, or Some Common Diseases of Mango in Florida. All can be found on the UF Extension publications website, . And if you want to know how to use your bumper crop of mangos, be sure to look for next week’s column by Family & Consumer Science Agent Judy Wakefield.
If you need additional information on mango culture, visit our Master Gardeners, or call or stop by our office. For those with other questions about Florida Yards, our office holds Master Gardener Clinic hours at the Extension office (1028 20th Place, Suite D, Vero Beach) every weekday morning and most afternoons, Wednesday morning at the City Council Chambers in Sebastian, and the first Saturday of the month at the Environmental Learning Center. Our phone number is 770-5030, and you can e-mail us at Indian@mail.ifas.ufl.edu .