Mango Farming in Kenya
The mango Farming in Kenya has expanded considerably over recent years, not only in size but also in the geographical location of commercial and homestead plantings. No longer is commercial mango cultivation restricted to the Coast region, as significant plantings of improved cultivars now also exist in the Makueni county, Meru County, Murang’a County, Nairobi County, Nakuru County, Siaya County, Taita Taveta County, Tana River County, Tharaka Nithi County, Bungoma County, Kitui County, Embu County, Machakos County, Kiambu County among other regions. Basically, In Kenya 7 out of 8 provinces produce mangoes. But the generally arid eastern region produces 61 percent of all mangoes, followed by Rift Valley at 30 percent and Coast, which produces 28 percent
Mango Farming in Kenya – Planting
Young mango tree
Land should be prepared by deep plowing followed by harrowing and leveling with a gentle slope for good drainage. Spacing varies from 10 m x 10 m, in the dry zones where growth is less, to 12 m x 12 m, in heavy rainfall areas and rich soils where abundant vegetative growth occurs. New dwarf hybrids like Amrapali can be planted at closer spacing. Pits are filled with original soil mixed with 20-25 kg well rotten FYM, 2.5 kg single super phosphate and 1 kg muriate of potash.
One year old healthy, straight growing grafts from reliable sources will be planted at the center of pits together with the ball of the earth intact throughout the time of year in such a way that the roots aren’t swollen and also the graft union is higher than the bottom level. Plants should be irrigated immediately after planting. In the initial one or 2 years, it’s advisable to supply some shade to the young plants and conjointly stake to form them grow straight.
Mango Farming in Kenya – Orchard
- Clear the selected planting field of all tree stumps and root systems
- Dig holes (60 x 60 x 60cm spaced at 8 x 8m to 13 x
- 13m depending on variety) during the dry season, 1-2 months before transplanting
- Separate top and sub-soil
- Mix topsoil with about 20kg of well-decomposed manure and 120g of DAP or TSP and fill back into the hole
- Place the seedling in the hole, pressing the soil firmly
- around the base of the stem up to the level as was in the planting bag
- Mulch around the tree to conserve moisture and smother weeds
- Top dress with 150g of CAN at the beginning of each rainy season until the third year when the rate is adjusted
- The site-specific nutrient requirement is guided by soil and leaf-tissue analysis
Arrangement of the orchard
The method of planting (orchard design) is dependent on the field layout. When mango is the main fruit in the orchard, a 10 m by 10 m planting distance is desirable where land is not all that fertile but normally, grafted trees are spaced at 8m by 10m or 10m by 12m, though at the Coast, seedlings require 2m by 14m. All the same, a spacing of as low as 3m by 4m can be utilized provided that the farmer will be able to put the necessary management practices such as essential pruning and control of pests and diseases.
Overcrowding results in the production of fewer fruits which are apt to be poorly colored and infected with diseases. Tall trees also present a harvesting problem and create difficulties during spraying and pruning because the trees tend to grow vertically, with minimal horizontal growth. Mango trees can be grown together with many other plants: as border trees on cultivated gardens, in intercropping within the gardens, in very diverse agroforestry systems or in silvopastoral systems.
Intercropping in mango plantations
If the area between the organic mango trees is to be used as arable land, adequate crop rotation should be planned. During the young developing stages of the mango trees, a crop rotation with annual crops such as legume crops, vegetables, cereals, and fodder crops can be grown in this case. If the local climatic and soil conditions are suitable, other fruit crops such as papaya (3 to 5 years cropping period) and pineapples (2 to 3 years) can be included in the intercropping system. Other possibilities to enhance the diversification in mango orchards include leaving some spontaneous plant growths (bushes, flowers, etc.) on the borders or between the trees to create ecological niches.
Mango in border areas of cultivated fields
Mango trees as border trees can improve diversification on the farm, it can protect the soil and other crops against wind and it can enhance the income of the farmer.
Mango in agro-forestry or Silvi-pastoral systems
Mango trees in agroforestry systems can include crops such as bananas, papayas, cocoa, etc. In silvi-pastoral systems, animals can be allowed to graze on pasture growing on the mango plantation. Windbreak trees are needed because mango trees are very susceptible to wind damage. Therefore, some trees are needed to protect from strong winds on the side of the prevailing winds.
Mango Farming in Kenya – Maintenance of Mango Trees
Mango trees need continuous attention in order to ensure continued harvests and to improve the lifespan of the orchard trees.
The form and height of a mango tree need to be controlled to guide the tree and to facilitate harvesting at a later stage. Formative pruning – is done in the first years of the young tree to guide the tree into the desired shape. In the first year, when the trees are about 1 m from the ground, cap the seedling in order to encourage side branches (3 to 4 well branches). Thereafter, every second flush of leaves should be removed.
- Fruit is produced on the outside of parts of the tree
- Fruit hold to maturity on the trees
- The open tree structure allows for easy harvesting
- Tree produces larger fruits
- Crops can be grown under the trees
- Tree benefits from natural conditions of sun and wind movement. This helps in reducing relative humidity within the canopy and also creating the environment less conducive to disease development.
- It controls tree height and prevents excessive spreading of limbs.
Mango Farming in Kenya – Irrigation
Young plants are watered frequently for proper establishment. In the case of grown-up trees, irrigation at 10 to 15 days interval from fruit set to maturity is beneficial for improving yield. However, irrigation is not recommended for 2-3 months prior to flowering as it is likely to promote vegetative growth at the expense of flowering.
Mango Farming in Kenya – Inter Cropping
Inter crops such as vegetables, legumes, short duration and dwarf fruit crops like papaya, guava, peach, plum, etc. depending on the agro-climatic factors of the region can be grown. The water and nutrient requirements of the intercrops must be met separately.
Mango Farming in Kenya – Harvesting, and yield
A mango plantation will supply its first commercially marketable amount of fruit around 4 to 5 years after being planted, and are in good production after eight years reaching full maturity at some 20 years of age. One tree should produce 200 to 500 fruits per year and varieties like “Dodo” and “Boribo” can produce 1000 fruits per year. Most varieties show biennial tendencies in production and a poor harvest may follow a good one. Selection should be based on varieties showing annual bearing tendencies.
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Depending on cultivars and environmental conditions it takes 90 to 160 days after flowering for Kenya mangos to reach maturity. Not all fruits on one tree will ripen at the same time. A great problem is to determine precisely the stage at which the fruit is ripe for picking. Fruits harvested too early will be of inferior quality after storage; however, fruits picked when too ripe cannot be stored for any length of time and may give rise to problems such as jelly seed. The fruit will have its best flavor if allowed to ripen on the tree. None of the tests (acid, sugar content or specific gravity) used to determine ripeness, however, are fully reliable.
The fruits are generally picked when they begin to change color. This may occur first in a small area or the change will cover most of the fruit’s surface. However, one destructive maturity test that can be applied even before the external color break starts is to examine the color of the flesh around the seed. When this begins to change from green-white to yellow or orange, it indicates that the fruit is beginning to ripen and may, therefore, be picked. Also, the greater the swelling of the shoulders above the stalk attachment, the riper the fruit is likely to be.
Pick fruit by hand. Clip them off with a long stalk of about 2 to 3 cm and pack the fruit in a single layer with the stalks facing downwards in the box or crate. It is important that the latex dripping from the stalk drops onto an absorbent material (for example tissue paper placed at the bottom of the container). Although mature mangoes ripen fairly rapidly, they have a poor tolerance to temperatures below 10°C, especially when freshly picked. Ripe fruits can, however, be stored as low as 7 to 8° C without developing a chilling injury.
Mango Farming in Kenya – Pests and Diseases
Although the mango in Kenya is spread throughout all feasible agroclimatic zones it has relatively few major problems with pests and diseases. These problems can be significantly reduced through a number of management decisions.
Mango fruit fly
Different types of fruit flies are known to attack ripening mangos in almost all mango producing areas. Yield losses of more than 50% have been reported. Ceratitis cosyra followed by C. rosa and C. capitata have been found to be the major pests of mango. The females lay their eggs under the surface of the fruit skin. After hatching, the maggots penetrate the flesh and destroy the fruit from inside. The infested part becomes mushy and causes premature coloring of the already useless fruit. Fruits of some cultivars are more susceptible to attack than those of others.
Mango seed weevil
The weevil, Sternochetus mangiferae (F), is a common pest in Kenya and can be found in all local mango-growing areas. It is spread mainly by the transportation of infested fruits since the weevil develops within the mango seed and can, therefore, be transported easily from one locality to another unnoticed. The mango weevil does not usually damage the fruit and consequently is not a serious pest as far as local consumption of the fruit is concerned. However, this pest hinders the development of a fresh fruit export market because the leading import countries in the Middle East and other places maintain strict quarantine regulations. Infestation symptoms are most obvious within the seed where the weevil largely completes its life cycle. Here all stages of the insect development—larvae, pupae, and adults—can be found. Externally the affected fruits appear normal but very often are rotting from inside.
The disease powdery mildew, caused by the fungus Oidium mangiferae, is a serious problem in all mango-growing areas in Kenya. Infections can result in complete crop loss and defoliation of trees. The disease favors cool and cloudy weather but also occurs in warm and humid climatic conditions. It attacks leaves, buds, flowers and young fruits. Infected tissues are covered with a whitish, powdery growth of the fungus.
Mature spores are easily blown away by wind and produce a fresh infection, or they may remain dormant during the unfavorable season awaiting optimum germination conditions in the next season. Spraying 3-5 times at 10-14 day intervals from the onset of flowering until fruit set can control powdery mildew. All mango cultivars are susceptible to powdery mildew infestation to some extent. The range of resistance (with Sensation being the most resistant) could be: Sensation, Van Dyke, Tommy Atkins, Sabine, Kent, Keitt, Batawi, Apple, Ngowe, Haden
Besides powdery mildew, anthracnose, caused by the fungus Colletotrichum gloeosporioides, is undoubtedly the most common and widespread fungus disease of mango and is a major factor limiting production in areas where conditions of high humidity prevail. The fungus invades inflorescences, fruits, leaves, and twigs. Substantial losses due to this disease are recorded every year not only at premature stages of the crop but also during storage after picking.
Humidity, rains and heavy dew during critical infection periods greatly increase the disease incidence. Most infections occur from the beginning of flowering in gradually decreasing severity until the fruit is about half-grown. Infections on the flower and panicle appear first as minute brown or black spots which slowly enlarge. Infected flowers usually wither and die before fruit set. Young fruits are readily infected.
Spots may remain as pinpoint latent infections or they may enlarge in wet weather. Wet weather also causes characteristic tear-stain symptoms due to the spread of fungal spores by raindrops. The latent infections on young fruits cause much of the decay which occurs in mature fruits. Nearly mature to ripe fruits will have black spots of varied form which may be slightly sunken and show surface cracks penetrating deeply into the fruit causing extensive rotting or complete blackening of the fruit surface.
Mango Farming in Kenya – Post Harvest Management
The shelf life of mangoes being short (2 to 3 weeks) they are cooled as soon as possible to a storage temperature of 13 degrees Celcius. A few varieties can withstand storage temperature of 10 degrees Celcius. Steps involved in post-harvest handling include preparation, grading, washing, drying, waxing, packing, pre-cooling, palletization and transportation.
Mango Farming in Kenya – Packaging
Mangoes are generally packed in corrugated fibreboard boxes 40 cm x 30 cm x 20cm in size. Fruits are packed in single layer 8 to 20 fruits per carton. The boxes should have a sufficient number of air holes (about 8% of the surface area) to allow good ventilation.
Banks in Kenya have also formulated mango financing schemes in potential areas for expansion of area under mango. Individual mango development schemes with farm infrastructure facilities like well, pumpset, fencing, and drip irrigation system, etc. have also been considered.
Mango Farming in Kenya – Importance
- Mangoes can be used to make juice, pickles, chutney, fresh fruit, jam/jelly, canned and/or dried fruit among other uses.
- Due to the many products that can be obtained from the mango, it makes it a potential source of foreign exchange for a developing country.
- Source of employment for a considerable seasonal labor force.
- The mango is known for combating nutritional disorders.
- Source of Vitamins
Mango Farming in Kenya – Common mango varieties are grown in Kenya
This variety originated from the Kenyan coast. It has a rich yellow/orange color when ripe, with medium to large fruits that are round in shape and smooth in texture and that do not have fibers. The tree is susceptible to anthracnose and powdery mildew. Depending on location, harvesting seasons are from December to the beginning of March; the yields are medium.
Tommy Atkins variety:
The Tommy Atkins variety has become an important commercial variety. It has a firm, deep yellow flesh, medium juice, and moderate fiber and a pleasant aroma. It is good for export because of its longer shelf life. shelf life. It can also resist anthracnose and powdery mildew
The Kent variety has a large-greenish-yellow fruit with a red or crimson blush on the shoulder. Its flesh is juicy, melting deep yellow and fibreless, with a rich flavor. The Kent tree is large and vigorous with a dense upright canopy. It is a late-maturing and is suitable for export.
Ngowe is the most easily recognized of the local mango varieties. Ngowe mango trees are comparatively small and round in shape. The fruit is good for commercial production and export; however, the tree is susceptible to powdery mildew.
Because of its good quality, seeds from the Haden variety are used as a parent for several other varieties of mangoes. It produces medium to large-sized fruit and is very juicy with a pleasant aroma. The Haden variety has an attractive appearance and is suitable for commercial production.
The medium- to large-sized, elongated but full fruits are of very good quality. Those developing inside the canopy are deep yellow while those exposed to the sun are bright yellow with a dark red blush. The yellow flesh is of medium texture, fibreless, pleasantly sweet, juicy and of a mild aroma. The average fruit dimensions are length 14.2 cm, width 6.6 cm and weight 435 g (range: 360–520 g). The rounded apex carries only a small depressed beak. The seed is mono-embryonic and covered by a medium-sized woody stone
Frequently Asked Questions About Mango Farming in Kenya
What is the average yield of a mango tree?
The average yield per hectare of a mango orchard would be 16000kgs with yield of 80kg per tree per year.
How many fruits does a mango tree produce?
Income With 100 Mango trees per acre the yield will be 500 – 1000 fruit per tree during years 10 – 20; 1000 – 3000 fruit per tree in the years 20 – 40. A first-grade fruit weighs 300 gr.
How long does a grafted mango tree take to fruit?
The seed grown trees will take a lot longer to bear fruit. (Unless you know how to graft them or know someone who does )Mango trees that were grown in a nursery are usually grafted and should fruit within three to four years. The seedling tree may take five to eight years.
How much water does a mango tree need?
Mango trees need to be watered throughout the first two years of their life to supplement rainfall and encourage growth. Each tree needs about 26 gallons of water per week.
How long can a mango tree live?
Mango trees live and produce fruit for many years, and with good growing conditions and without freezing weather that will kill the tree, mangoes can bear fruit for decades or longer. According to California Rare Fruit Growers Inc., there are mango trees reported to be bearing fruit that is older than 300 years.
Which fertilizer is best for Mango?
In general, fertilizers for bearing trees should contain 9 to 15 percent potassium and phosphorus should be reduced to 2 to 4 percent. Commonly available fertilizer mixes that are satisfactory for mango trees include 6-6-6 and 8-3-9-2, the 2 indicating magnesium.
In which season does the mango fruit grow?
At the beginning of summer season (month between March to April), the flowers become fruit and gradually increasing the size of the mangos and it is ready for the ripening .. only in the summer season Various types of mangos are grown.