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not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
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record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
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Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
Mimeographed Report No. 10 June 1945
Revised April 1947
University of Florida
SUB-TROPICAL EXPERIMENT STATION
CULTURAL DIRECTIONS FOR GROWING MANGOS IN FLO
By-- / /
Geo. D. Ruehle /
Soils 79 /
Mangos will grow successfully on soils of widely diverse type'.,, 'k e the tree
thrives best on a deep loam containing a high percentage of humus t.- flourish
on light infertile sands or shallow limestone soils if properly ferti'i rei n/
Florida, commercial mango culture is successful on the various soil typesYe /
Stuart on the east coast and Bradenton on the west coast to the southern end of the
peninsula. While the mango is less affected by the quality of the soil than many
other fruit trees, adequate drainage is important. The tree is not thrifty nor
prolific in low, poorly-drained lands or on higher ground where the subdrainage is
While the Haden mango is still the leading variety grown in Florida, it has one
serious detect as a commercial fruit. This is its pronounced tendency in solid
block plant lps to produce in most seasons very light crops of marketable fruit
even though weather conditions may be favorable for pollination and fruit setting.
Attempts to entirely overcome this difficulty by cultural means have thus far
failed and it seems likely that the future expansion of the mango industry must de-
pend upon the discovery or development of new varieties which are relatively free
of this defect and which are also attractive in appearance, free of objectionable
fiber and possess excellence of quality. Fortunately, a good start has already
been made in this direction.
In recent years many new seedlings have been studied from the standpoint of determin-
ing their desirability for commercial propagation. Very few of these have been ob-
served for a sufficient period of years to make definite recommendations concerning
their possibilities. At least four of the new varieties, however, appear to possess
qualifications superior to Haden for commercial planting. These are Edward, Fascell,
Kent, and Zill. The Brooks (Brooks Late), although deficient in quality and color,
is recommended because of its late season (September-October) and heavy bearing
There are many other promising new varieties under observation and a few of these
may prove as good or better than the above after further study. Among these may be
mentioned Adams (several numbers), Anderson, Burgner, Collins, Davis, Keenan, Palmer,
In addition to these, the following varieties are recommended as possessing desir-
able qualities for home planting: Amini, Borsha, Cambodiana, Carrie, Cecil, Haden,
Itamaraca, Mulgoba, Paheri, Pettigrew, Simmonds, Springfels, and Yellow Bombay.
Since individual tastes differ widely, others could well be added to this list to
suit individual preference.
Commercial plantings should be set at least 30 to 35 ft. apart each way. Varie-
ties such as Itamaraca, Brooks, Cambodiana, and Cecil may be set at somewhat closer
intervals than the more vigorously growing Haden and Mulgoba. Commercial plantings
of some of the newer varieties such as Kent, Zill, and Fascell are not old enough
to ascertain the proper minimum space required. For the present, it is recommended
that these varieties be set at least 35 ft. apart each way.
Planting the Trees
The land on which young mango trees are to be planted should be cleared as far in
advance as possible. In deep soils the land should be plowed and disked; in lime-
rock soils it should be well scarified and grooved or plowed out where the tree
rows are to be located. In either case, it is desirable to plant to a crop such as
Crotalaria spectabilis or to some other legume adapted to the area for at least one
season before planting the young trees. This cover crop should be either disked or
mowed after it has produced seed.
The land should be well prepared and staked or spaced off before planting. Mango
trees are usually planted to best advantage during late spring just ahead of the
A planting hole must be prepared large enough to easily accommodate the root system
of the trees to be planted. If these are removed from a nursery row prior- to plant-
ing, the roots are usually balled with sufficient soil to prevent them from drying
out and with the top defoliated or cut back to balance the root system retained.
If grown in pots, cans or plant boxes, they may be planted without cutting back the
top, provided the roots are not disturbed when removed from the plant container.
Before placing the tree, the soil in the bottom of the hole is commonly mixed with
some topsoil fortified with a small amount of well-rotted compost or barnyard ma-
nure or with a natural organic fertilizer such as dried sheep manure or steamed
bonemeal. It is not advisable to place large amounts of loose compost, manure,
muck or peat under the trees, since these materials will disintegrate over a period
of years leaving undesirable air pockets in the root zone which may cause serious
trouble later. In planting mango trees, it is very important not to have the roots
any deeper than they were in the nursery or plant container, to have the soil well
packed around the roots and to water the tree liberally as soon as planted to avoid
air pockets. When the hole is completely filled, a basin is formed around the tree
When large nursery trees are transplanted with only a comparatively small part of
the root system moved, it is necessary to defoliate the tree or even to cut back
some of the branches. In this case it is advisable to protect the limbs from sun-
burning with whitewash or to provide shade for the tree until a new growth of leaves
is formed. A good formula for a durable whitewash is as follows:
Quicklime . ... 50 lbs.
Water . . 10 gals.
Zinc sulfate . 4 lbs.
Slake the lime with water in such a way as to prevent burning of the lime. Dissolve
the zinc sulfate in water and use this in diluting the slaked-lime to the proper
consistency for application.
After the trees are planted and watered in, the basin should be mulched heavily
with grass and weeds or sawdust to prevent drying out and heating of the soil
aboat the new roots. This mulch should be pulled away, however, when there is
danger of frost, because trees with a mulch or with weeds growing close to the
trunk are more readily injured by frost than those around which the soil is bare.
Fertilizing Non-bearing Trees
For the first 2 or 3 years after planting, mango trees should in general be fer-
tilized with low analysis mixtures analyzing approximately 4% nitrogen (N), 7 to 9%
phosphoric acid (P205), 3 to 5% potash (K20), and 1.5% water soluble magnesium
(MgO), with the N derived 30 to 40% from natural organic sources. This general
mixture should be modified or supplemented in certain of the soil types found in
southern Florida. On peat soils, the N may be greatly reduced or even eliminated
altogether. On alkaline soils, particularly on those containing marl, the mixture.
should include 1 to 2% MnO (supplied from-manganese sulfate).
On newly cleared sandy soils with a strongly acid reaction, it is desirable to make
a general application of dolomite at 600 to 2,000 pounds per acre (the amount de-
termined by the degree of acidity) broadcast and worked in just before or just after
the trees are planted. On certain of these sands (Lakewood and St. Lucie series)
with a very low magnesium content, it is desirable to increase the water soluble
MgO content of the mixture from 1.5 to 37. On newly scarified limestone soils
(Rockdale series) an application of superphosphate at 500 to 1,000 pounds per acre
broadcast before planting is desirable.
Most of the soils utilized for growing mangos in Florida are deficient in copper
and zinc and these elements must be supplied if normal growth is to be maintained.
Copper and zinc are best supplied to young mango trees as sprays. A spray mixture
containing 1 pound of Cuprocide (or some other fixed copper used at the same rate
of metallic copper), 2 pounds of zinc sulfate and 1 pound of hydrated lime to each
100 gallons of water, applied 3 times during the year (February, June and September)
will supply the trees' requirements for copper and zinc and also aid in controlling
mango scab and anthracnose infection. Manganese sulfate should be added if the
trees are growing in marl or other highly calcareous soils.
Young trees planted directly from containers without disturbing the root system
may be given a light application (1/2 lb.) of fertilizer immediately after planting.
It is customary to wait 3 to 4 weeks before applying the first fertilizer, when
larger trees are planted with only a small portion of the root system moved. Ap-
plications are repeated at intervals of about 30 days during the first year except
that they should be omitted from November 15 to January 15. The fertilizer is
broadcast uniformly over an area beginning a few inches from the trunk of the tree
and extending to the edge of the watering basin. As the tree grows, the roots ex-
tend beyond the basin and the fertilizer area is widened accordingly. The amount
of fertilizer per application is gradually increased to about 1 pound by the end
of the first year.
During the second and third years the interval between applications is lengthened
to 60 days and the amounts per application gradually are increased to 3 and finally
4 pounds by the end of the third year. Inflorescences should be removed from the
trees during the first two years. The nutritional spray (containing copper and
zinc) should be applied 3 times a year.
A close watch of the young trees should be kept for scales, thrips, and other
animal or insect pests, since infestations, if allowed to develop unchecked, will
seriously retard the growth of the trees. Spot spraying to eradicate infestations
just as they are starting is frequently the best economy in combatting insect pests.
Fertilizing Bearing Trees
The fertilizer requirements for bearing mango trees are not yet thoroughly under-
stood, especially for trees growing on certain soil types, whose characteristics
are poorly understood at present. In fact, a thorough study has not yet been made
of the requirements of a single variety growing in any of the soil types in which
mangos are grown commercially in Florida. Experiments conducted for years by the
Florida Station on the Haden mango growing on Rockdale series limestone soils
yielded no conclusive data as to the requirements for nitrogen, phosphoric acid,
and potash. In these tests the trees were fertilized 3 times per year, in spring,
summer, and fall, much the same as citrus trees but no consideration was given to
the possible effect of the secondary elements copper, zinc, manganese, and mag-
nesium. Also little consideration was given to the time of bud differentiation
in the timing of fertilizer applications.
Investigations of the floral bud development of the mango has shown that the fruit
buds differentiate in the fall on growth produced during the preceding spring and
summer months. In fruit trees in general a checking of the vegetative growth
favors fruit bud differentiation and the mango apparently is no exception. In
Florida, the trees usually bloom very profusely following a sharp check to vege-
table growth such as is provided by a frost or a severe drought period in late
fall or early winter. Theoretically, withholding fertilizers or at least nitrates
in the fall of the year will apply a check to vegetative growth prior to the flower-
ing season. On the other hand, the production of a heavy crop of fruit exhausts
the tree and it is necessary to fertilize liberally during the spring and early
summer to promote the development of strong shoots for the next crop. Furthermore,
the extremely heavy inflorescences produced by most mango varieties whether a crop
sets or not, removes considerable of the plant food reserve in the tree and from
the soil that supports it. It would seem advisable, therefore, to supply readily
available plant food at the time the fruit buds begin to swell, to strengthen the
bloom, much of which is imperfect in the mango.
With these observations and theoretical considerations in mind, the following fer-
tilizer program is suggested for mango trees growing on Rockdale series limestone
soils and east and west coast sandy soils. It must be admitted that the program
has not been thoroughly tested on large blocks of trees. Exploratory tests on a
few trees of several different varieties have given good results and it is offered
as tentative until additional experimental data can be obtained.
Spring application latter part of January to March 1. Apply moderate amount of
a mixture analyzing 4 or 5% N, 6 to 8g P205, 5 or 6% K20, and 3% MgO, with 25 to 30%
of the N derived from natural organic sources.
Summer application latter part of May to June 15. Apply heavy application of a
mixture analyzing 4 or 5o NI, 6 to 8% P205, 5 to 8% K20, and 3% MgO, with 40 to 50%
of the I derived from natural organic sources.
Fall application latter part of September to October 15, Apply an application of
a mixture containing P205 and K20 in quantity to equal the amount per tree of these
compound applied in the spring application.
Pre-bloom application when fruit buds begin to swell. Apply quickly available
nitrogen or nitrogen and potash bearing materials such as sulfate of ammonia
(20.5-0-0), Uramon (42-0-0), nitrate of soda-potash (15-0-14) or a mixed topdresser
(10-0-10 or a similar analysis) in amounts to supply N equal to the amount applied
in the summer application.
It is difficult to recommend exact poundages. The amounts will vary with the
type of soil, the rate of tree growth, rainfall and other factors. As a rough
guide, it is suggested that 1 lb. of fertilizer mixture for each year of age of
the tree per application be considered a moderate application. Increasing this
amount 25 to 50fo may be considered a heavy application.
It has been observed that trees fertilized heavily with nitrogen develop zinc
deficiency symptoms faster and of greater severity than trees receiving lesser
amounts of this element, If a heavy fertilizer program is adopted, therefore,
the grower should include zinc sulfate with one or more of the copper fungicidal
sprays applied for disease control.
The only pruning usually given the mango consists in cutting out dead wood. With
varieties producing dense tops, such as Mulgoba, and to a lesser extent, the
Haden, there is some evidence that pruning out slender branches and weak wood from
the center of the tree is beneficial. This admits light and air to the fruit which
sets in the top, makes it easier to cover the fruit with protective sprays for an-
thracnose control and promotes the development of better skin color in red varie-
ties. Such pruning is probably best done after the summer flush of growth has
While definite information is lacking concerning the value of cover crops in a
mango grove, it is reasonable to assume that the same advantages would result with
the mango as with citrus or avocado trees. On most sandy soils and on the limestone
soils of Dade County, where organic matter is of great importance, the growing of
an adequate cover crop during the summer period is especially important to main-
tain the organic matter content of the soil and to protect it from the heat of the
sun. A good stand of native grasses or weeds will give excellent cover, or a
planted leguminous cover crop such as Crotalaria, beggarweed, or white sweet
clover may be used. The particular cover crop selected should be one that has
proved successful on the soil type used, a point which the grower can determine
either by observation or by consulting his County Agent.