Upgrading inferior mango trees to bear classy fruits
SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ—Nothing is more disheartening for mango tree growers than to realize that after years of waiting, the trees yield fruits that do not meet expectations.
This happens when the trees are planted close to one another. Or, when the grower realizes he was duped into buying Indian mango seeds instead of the much preferred carabao mangoes which are sweet when ripe.
But there’s still hope for low-quality trees. “Don’t despair … don’t kill them … They can be upgraded to bear fruits of different desirable varieties,” advised Bernardo Dizon, a pomologist (one who cultivates fruit trees) who is promoting the wonders of topworking, a propagation technology.
“They can also be made to bear fruits during the rainy season without applying flower inducer,” he added.
Dizon maintains a botanic garden at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in Diliman, Quezon City, and a technology-demonstration farm at the Central Luzon State University (CLSU) here. He has been going around the country to demonstrate to growers how to turn their unwanted trees into very productive ones.
His CLSU farm grows carabao and Indian mango trees grafted with the branches of other high quality varieties of off-season fruits. “This tree has the trunk of a carabao mango tree but its branches bear fruits of the famous Nam Doc Mai of Thailand, which is a major variety of commerce in Asia,” Dizon said.
There are other mango trees with fruit-bearing branches of the Golden Queen and peach mango.
“It is easy to do it,” Dizon said. The trunk of the tree is cut down to one meter above the ground and allowed to grow new shoots to develop.
As soon as the stem of the shoots has grown to the size of a human finger, one can attach the desired fruit variety, Dizon said.
Textbooks describe grafting as a horticultural technique for developing a permanent union of the stem of a mother tree, called rootstock, and a healthy shoot of the fruit-bearing desired plant to be grafted.
Dizon is advocating “cleft grafting,” which requires cutting or splitting the tip of the stem of the mother tree. Into this cut slides the basal end of the foreign plant, which is bound for three weeks.
“Our carabao mangoes have a unique aromatic flavor but their trees have specific characteristics and needs. Their branches should receive enough sunlight. They bear fruits six to seven months after flushing and are fruiting every two years,” Dizon said.
The Indian mango trees are easy to grow and maintain, although their fruits don’t have a big market.
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