Altering The flowering of Mango plant?
Could this be the solution for the mango glut experienced by farmers?
Many mango farmers in Kenya and everywhere experience a glut during the mango season.
They often have so much fruit for sale than the buyers available for it.
This excess production, against low demand leads to poor mango prices.
The Mango Season in Kenya
The mango season in Kenya runs from November to April (and sometimes to July). During these seasons, Kenya export mangoes have less competition in the international market, but very high competition in the local market. The mangoes, therefore, earn better prices in Europe and the Middle East—earning exporters lots of cash, but farmers lose out because exporters buy from them at throwaway prices in the local market, but sell for high prices in the international markets.
With the above knowledge, how do you time your mango production so that you benefit from better prices regardless of market demand? Mango experts agree that the best approach is to use a combination of the following mango husbandry techniques:
Diversify the varieties in your mango orchard.
Every mango variety has its unique characteristics. Each variety has its own date of flowering, date of maturity, and date of harvest. These differences in flowering are so distinct among mango varieties, that experts use them to classify the mango varieties into groups. When it comes to the date of maturity of fruits, mango growers classify mango varieties either as early mid or late maturing. When you have varieties that mature in different months in your farm, you have better insurance against mango glut that a farmer who has only one variety. This puts you at an advantage where you can profit whatever the market demand of mango fruits.
Know how to induce early flowering of mango trees.
One tactic that can allow you earn lots of cash from mangoes is timing the market by initiating early flowering or delaying flowering so that your mangoes mature when the season is almost over.
How to induce early flowering of mango trees.
If you are producing for the local Kenyan market, your produce needs to get to the market as early as September and not later October. When the main Mango season is yet to start, or very late in the season when the mango season is almost over
Many techniques have been used in other countries to improve productivity and to alter the cropping season.
- Smudging (moist organic material—grass, leaves, etc.—-is slowly burnt under the tree canopies and the resulting smoke induces flowering) is an old technique reported from the Philippines for enforcing off-season flowering, but this has mostly given way to
- Chemical induction.
You can apply plant hormones, and potassium nitrate to induce early flowering. Before you do this, you need to understand the steps that a mango tree must go through before flowering and fruit formation
The reasons are obvious: to have an altered earlier harvest, to take advantage of the excellent market price, to fill the gap of under-supply and to have flowering during a dry spell with little or no fungal diseases.
The readiness of a tree to flower is an essential factor for a successful operation. For best results, choose trees with leaves that are dull green or greenish-brown and brittle when crushed by hand. The trees should have an appearance of suspended growth or be dormant. It is easier to induce mango trees to flower towards the dry season, and older trees respond better than young ones.
It is recommended that a 1% potassium nitrate solution mixed with a sticker agent (adhesive) be sprayed on to the tree, totally drenching its terminals and leaves. Make sure a knapsack sprayer has no residual herbicide in it before beginning to spray. If the timing is right, flowers will emerge 10-14 days after application. Tentative trials have been successfully implemented in Kenya.
Once you succeed in inducing the plants to flower, be careful not to let mango pests attack your plants as this could lead to flower drop.
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