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Tropical Zone Gardening: Mango tree husbandry

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happyisland
Mon Plaisir
Aruba

February 10, 2010
12:18 AM

Post #7545926

I bought my little house about a year ago and since then I've put in 4 mango trees, with a fifth on the way. So naturally I have a few questions, which I thought I would pose to this knowledgeable community.

1) how long should a newly-planted mango tree be in the ground before it can handle a first application of fertilizer?

2) one of my trees had been very fast growing, but I over-enthusiastically pruned the tops off of it (and removed some internal crossing branches) to try to keep it from growing too tall and to allow air and sunlight to enter the core of the tree. That was 3 months ago and it has not had a growth flush since. It seems healthy, but it's not growing anymore. Should I be concerned?

3) in the virtually season-less southern Caribbean, when should I prune, fertilize, etc.

4) is there any other awesome advice that a newcomer to the mango game should know?

THANKS!!!
tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

February 10, 2010
2:28 AM

Post #7546316

When I bought my place (about 6 years ago) there were already about 560 mango trees on it. Less now, and I'm still going to remove a lot more. A lot of the answers to your questions will depend on the type of soil you have, and the microclimate you're in. Mangos do well in poorer soils, richer soils can produce a lot of wood and leaf but little in the way of fruit. A soil test is the best way to know if you need anything. Like here, adding zinc is good, but you might already have enough in your soil. Adding nitrogen would make your plants grow fast, but they can be consequently weak. Not good when cyclonic winds are around. I've found that mangos that get waterlogged for a lot of the wet season often produce fruit earlier in the dry season. The best recipie for a shorter tree is to plant grafted ones. They don't need so much pruning but you still need to thin out the crossed branches inside and give them a tip pruning. That encourages better fruiting. They're very susceptible to fungus (anthracnose) especially when they're flowering/fruiting. Best if they have dry weather that time of year.
happyisland
Mon Plaisir
Aruba

February 10, 2010
1:50 PM

Post #7547377

560! Jumpin jiminy!
I have a lot to learn from you on this one. As recommended I'm going to do a soil test. I've just been fertilizing with basic citrus/mango fertilizer as recommended on the side of the bag, but it's possible that we need some micronutrients too.

Keeping things dry during flowering and fruiting will not be a problem, since there's very little rain here in Aruba ever.

tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

February 10, 2010
2:46 PM

Post #7547523

I did look up Aruba's climate some time ago. I recall it's a flat island so your rainfall can only really come from tropical disturbances. That should give you a good dry period during flowering. That's the ideal climate for mangos. People here usually irrigate their trees once they have 80% of their flowers. Watering too early can cause massive flower drop and hinder additional flowering.

You need to be a bit careful with micronutrients/ trace elements. It's easy to over do them with unfortunate side effects. Sometimes they're in the soil already, but things like wrong pH or imbalance of other minerals can make them unavailable to plants. That's why a soil test is so important.

Pollination is another important factor. Trees suddenly produce millions of flowers at a time of year when insect activity is reduced. To "recruit" the maximum variety and numbers of pollinators some growers hang animal carcasses in their orchards to attract flies which also pollinate the flowers.
happyisland
Mon Plaisir
Aruba

February 13, 2010
3:52 PM

Post #7556112

Haha! I love the idea of hanging animal carcasses in my front yard - that would surely be the final straw for my long-suffering non-gardener wife.

Thanks for the thoughts and advice, tropicbreeze. I had started this thread because I was worried about my Valencia Pride tree which hadn't had any new growth for 3 or 4 months since I pruned it. Yesterday morning I went outside and it was covered in buds, so I guess I'm back in business. Two things that I think probably did it: 1) I watered it very heavily for about 20 minutes, and 2) I fertilized it again.

Now if that dang Alphonso mango tree in the back yard would just get a growth flush I'd be truly happy...
happyisland
Mon Plaisir
Aruba

February 16, 2010
10:37 PM

Post #7564965

here's a pic of the tree that I was worried about - if you look closely you'll see it's COVERED in new growth. Do you think it had something to do with posting in this forum?

Thumbnail by happyisland
Click the image for an enlarged view.

tropicbreeze
noonamah
Australia

February 16, 2010
11:06 PM

Post #7565021

Try checking whether your internet has been getting used in the middle of the night. Perhaps even dust the keyboard for leaf-prints. Check the location of DG member "Mango1". ;O)
Braveheartsmom
Hillsborough , NC
(Zone 7a)

February 17, 2010
4:06 AM

Post #7565742

LOL! Looking good to me!
Some of my mango's new growth is a lovely bronze-y color and the first time I saw it from my upstairs window, at a distance, I thought the tree was dying until I got up close! Our trees are full of flower and many, many small fruit - most of which will fall off and thin themselves. Good luck with your new tree, you will be picking mango soon. Here's hoping it doesn't rain hard and spoil the blossoms because I am not about to hang a dead animal in them!

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