Versatile Mango Fruit: Tropical Favorite
Tara A. Spears
Mango is one of the most commonly eaten fruits in tropical areas worldwide. Now with efficient shipping readily available, mango is grown commercially and sent to global markets. In coastal Mexico the mango trees generally bloom January through March with the fruit ripening approximately 100-150 days later, hence June begins the local harvest. Mexico is a major supplier to U.S. and Canadian markets today.
Mangos will have the best flavor if allowed to ripen on the tree, although winter-maturing fruits must be ripened indoors. Ripening fruit turns the characteristic color of the variety and begins to soften to the touch, much like a peach.
Not all of the mango fruit ripens at the same time, which is handy if you have one tree for your family. Mangos are harvested in ‘waves’: when the first fruit shows color on the tree, all of that size fruit or larger may be removed; repeat picking when the remaining fruit colors. Like other warm weather fruit, it does not like cold, so do not store below 50° F. The mango fruit ripens best if placed stem end down in trays at room temperature and covered with a dampened cloth to avoid shriveling. Mangos are wonderful eaten sliced or used in many ways for snazzing up entrees. What better way to cool off in the summer than to have a mango smoothie or mango cocktail!
Mango in the Home Garden:
Mango trees make handsome landscape specimens and shade trees. They are erect and fast growing in a warm climate. Its canopy can be broad and rounded, or more upright, with a relatively slender crown. It is ultimately a large tree, to 65 ft. so allow space for it to grow. The tree is long-lived with some specimens known to be over 300 years old and still fruiting. In deep soil the taproot descends to a depth of 20 ft, and the profuse, wide-spreading feeder roots also send down many anchor roots which penetrate for several feet.
Mangos will grow in almost any well-drained soil whether sandy, loam or clay, but avoid heavy, wet soils. A pH between 5.5 and 7.5 is preferred. They are somewhat tolerant of alkalinity. For good growth, mangos need a deep soil to accommodate their extensive root systems.
As you can see in the photo of a blooming mango tree, the yellow or reddish flowers are borne on stems of inflorescence which appear at branch terminals. The pollen is contained in dense panicles of up to 2000 tiny flowers per shoot! These flowers give off a volatile substance, causing allergic and respiratory problems for some persons.
Mango pollinators are flies, hoverflies and less often, bees. Few of the flowers in each inflorescence are perfect, so most do not produce pollen and are incapable of producing fruit. The mango pollen cannot be shed during periods of high humidity or rain. Fertilization is also ineffective when night temperatures are below 55° F.
You can enjoy this nutritious tropical fruit fresh right off the tree, or freeze some for use all year long.
A local truck load of mangoes overturned on the way to La Penita this week.