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By En USA news

2024 mango season taking shape: UF/IFAS experts offer observations

Mango season is here! Mango trees in residential yards and fields in South Florida are in their fruiting stage, marking the ideal time when the small flowers have begun to reveal tiny fruits.

The 2023 mango season produced an abundance of fruit last year. Will this be the case by 2024? What can researchers tell mango lovers when the first signs of fruiting begin to appear?

This is a busy time for two experts at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) in Homestead. They are busy watching the fields and residential yards of South Florida to see how the mango trees are progressing.

Meet Jeff Wasielewski, UF/IFAS Extension Tropical Fruit Crop Business Agent in Miami-Dade County and Jonathan Crane, UF/IFAS Professor, Tropical Fruit Crop Specialist and Associate Director of the Research Center and UF/IFAS Tropical Education Program (TREC). Together, they answer questions from both consumers and producers, visit farms, organize workshops and carry out research on the more than 200 varieties of mango present in Florida.

In this document, we present what they are seeing, comments from producers and the latest research findings in TREC laboratories that keep mangoes on the minds of consumers in South Florida, where this fruit is king.

Jeff Wasielewski:

Q: What are the most frequently asked questions you are receiving this year?

A: General questions like: "What are these spots on the leaves?" These spots can be attributed to a fungus known as anthracnose that attacks flowers, young fruits, leaves and branches. Another question I often get is, "Why isn't my tree bearing fruit?" There are many reasons why a tree is not producing fruit, including too much shade, aggressive pruning, overwatering, overfertilizing, heavy pest damage, or it may simply be a bad year.


Q: Were there any major changes last year that might indicate a potential change in this year's returns?

A: This year we experienced two significant blooms during the season, one early and one late. Unfortunately, after each bloom, there was heavy rain that knocked down the flowers and created conditions conducive for anthracnose to affect some of the young fruits. The outlook for fruit setting this year is not as promising as last year. However, the good news is that we still hope to get some amount of fruit this year and we can definitely dream of a better harvest for next year.


Q: Are there any new practices owners should implement to benefit next year's performance?

A: It is always advisable to keep trees pruned to promote air circulation and light entry, which helps control diseases. Additionally, when looking to purchase a tree, it is important to choose the right planting location and opt for varieties that are less susceptible to disease. There are variety recommendations and a list of places to buy fruit trees online. Some varieties that could be considered are Fairchild, Rosigold, Glenn, Angie and Orange Sherbet.

Q: What signs should homeowners look for that could indicate their mango tree might perform differently this year?

A: It all comes down to the fruit. It's as simple as looking at the trees and seeing what fruits they have. The fruits should be around 2.7 cm or longer. There may still be some fruit drop, but what has remained until now is more likely to grow.

Q: Does pruning a mango tree help or hinder performance in certain seasons? 

A: If pruned too late in the season or done too intensely, it can disrupt the flowering cycle. For example, pruning too late (after October) or pruning more than 35% of the tree's canopy can induce the tree to produce excessive vegetative growth instead of focusing on flowering.


Q: When is the best time to prune a mango tree? 

A: The best time to prune a mango tree is after the last fruit has been harvested. The objective of pruning is to open the tree and keep its height below 4.5 meters. If you have a small tree, you can try pruning yourself. However, if the tree is large, it is advisable to hire a certified arborist.


Jonathan Crane:

Q: What do producers say about their crops so far?

A: Overall, mango fruit set has declined this year, ranging from slightly lower than last year to being considered a good or even disastrous year. Some producers attribute their poor performance to the weather during the flowering period, such as unseasonal rain and/or wind, others blame the intensity of pests and diseases that attack the flowers.


Q: Are there any new varieties that growers are testing and what are some interesting characteristics that consumers can look for in the supermarket?

A: A wide range of unique old varieties are being grown, as well as new varieties. Many of the latter have been selected within the private breeding program called Zill High Performance Plants. Most of these varieties will be available through direct sales outlets and online.

Q: What can we expect to see in the Florida mango market?

A: A wide variety of Florida-grown mangoes will be available in specialty online markets and through direct sales. Florida's distinct advantage lies in growing unique, high-quality varieties not typically found in mainstream mango trade channels. These varieties are aimed at mango fans who appreciate the diversity of aromas, flavors, shapes, textures and colors that this fruit offers.


Q: What research is being carried out at TREC and why?

A: Very little is known about the metabolism involved in the characteristic aroma and flavor we all love about mango. Additionally, there is a lack of understanding about the storage process for many varieties. Although some varieties have been tested by consumers, plant growth stages such as flowering, color change, dormancy, and harvest are not well documented for many varieties.

A team of UF scientists just completed a project investigating the metabolomics (study of chemical processes involving any molecule used, capable or produced during metabolism) of mango aroma and flavor (Dr. Yu Wang, Center for Education and Citrus Research), postharvest handling (Dr. Jeff Brecht, horticultural sciences), consumer evaluations and acceptance (Dr. Charles Sims, food sciences and human nutrition) and phenology (growth phases of citrus fruits). trees) (Dr. Jonathan Crane, TREC). All of this effort aims to link metabolomics, postharvest management, consumer acceptance and phenology in future mango breeding and selection programs.


Q: What are the top three things about Florida mangoes that new growers should know?

A: Proper selection of the planting site, careful selection of varieties to grow, and dedication to various marketing tactics can make mango production in Florida a profitable business.

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