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Orchard Practices for Minimising Mango Fruit Splitting

Mango, the king of fruits! It's no surprise that mangoes are a popular summertime treat, with their vivid yellow, orange, and red colours, an irresistible perfume that suggests sunshine and summer days, and sweet flesh that melts in your mouth. However, there is one frequent enemy that can harm your mango harvest: fruit bursting. 

Mangoes are a tropical gem that originated in South and Southeast Asia and have been farmed there for generations. They are now enjoyed all throughout the world, and their adaptability is greatly recognized. They can be eaten fresh, sliced in salads, or dried and candied. Mangoes are also often used in juices, jams, chutneys, and curries. But for many, the ultimate delight is just biting into a perfectly ripe, juicy mango.

Mangoes are prone to bursting due to a complex interaction of variables that stress the fruit, eventually disintegrating its cell walls. Here's a closer look at the main culprits.

  • Inconsistent Water Management: Fluctuating water levels, particularly during the key ripening stage, might damage the fruit. When a mango is under drought stress, it takes water from its cells to survive. This dehydration weakens the cell walls, making them more likely to burst when water levels abruptly rise during strong rains or overwatering. Prolonged waterlogging, on the other hand, can cause bursting by interfering with the fruit's respiration mechanism and degrading its cell wall.

  • Nutrient insufficiency: Boron insufficiency is a primary cause of mango bursting. Boron is a key mineral that helps to maintain cell wall integrity and strength. When boron levels are low, the cell walls become thin and brittle, unable to bear the internal pressure of the developing fruit, which eventually leads to splitting.

  • Physical Stress: Strong winds can damage mangoes by producing breaches in the skin that allow viruses to enter and increase the danger of bursting. Rough treatment during harvesting and shipping can also result in bruises or punctures, weakening the fruit's structure and making it more susceptible to splitting.

  • Rapid Temperature Changes: Extreme temperature fluctuations might stress the mango, altering its internal functions. This can induce uneven ripening and localized vulnerabilities in the cell walls, increasing the risk of the fruit bursting.

Steps to Save the Day

Orchard Management

Now that we know the enemy, let's look at the weapons in our armoury, beginning with good orchard management practices:

  • Continuous Irrigation: Providing continuous moisture throughout the fruit development phases, particularly during ripening, is essential. This entails developing an irrigation plan that meets your mango plants' individual water requirements at various growth stages. To avoid droughts or waterlogging, regularly monitor soil moisture levels and change irrigation operations accordingly.

  • Nutrient Management: Ensure that there is an appropriate supply of boron in the soil. A soil test can help evaluate boron levels and inadequacies. If boron is deficient, consider using boron-rich fertilizers or foliar sprays containing a borax solution (around the time fruits reach pea size) to solve the problem. Boron should be applied at the recommended rates and timings to avoid over-application, which can be harmful to the fruit.

  • Wind Protection: Planting windbreaks around the orchard is a simple but efficient approach to reduce the physical stress on the fruits caused by strong winds. Windbreaks can be created by planting rows of higher trees or placing permanent structures strategically around the orchard. Choosing windbreak species that are well-adapted to your local climate and will not compete with your mango trees for resources is critical.

Pre-Harvest Practices:

  • Fruit Thinning: Remove some fruits during the fruit set to improve light penetration and air circulation in the canopy. This lessens competition for resources and relieves stress on the surviving fruits.

  • Supporting Structures: For large or heavy mangoe, provide individual fruit props or slings to keep them from becoming weighed down and breaking.

  • Harvesting at the Right Time: Avoid picking fruits too early! Harvest mangoes at the appropriate maturity level for your variety. Picking immature fruits increases their chances of bursting during ripening.

Post-Harvest Handling:

  • Careful Handling: Fruits should not be roughly handled during harvesting or transportation. This reduces physical damage, which could lead to bursting.

  • Proper Storage: Place collected mangoes in a cool, well-ventilated place with stable temperature and humidity.

In conclusion, preventing mango bursting necessitates a multifaceted approach. Understanding the causes - uneven water management, nutrient inadequacy, physical stress, and fast temperature fluctuations - allows us to execute tailored strategies. Every stage of the process is critical, from continuous watering and adequate fertiliser management in the orchard to careful handling and storage after harvest. Don't be hesitant to seek out extra options, such as speaking with local agricultural experts or trying natural alternatives. With a little forethought, commitment, and the knowledge gained from this article, you can ensure that your mango trees produce a harvest of healthy, attractive fruits that burst with taste rather than split, for you and your loved ones to enjoy. So, accept the challenge and enjoy the sweet pleasures of a successful mango harvest!


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