The Basics of Propagating the Philippine Mango

By Henrylito D. Tacio

Davao, 2 August 2009. The Philippines is one of the world’s top producers of mango. The country is known for its “Manila Super Mango” because of its taste which until now is “still unmatched.” Former Agriculture Secretary Leonardo Q. Montemayor said the country has found its way in the Guinness Book of World Records as the sweetest of its kind in the world.

For sure, the Philippine mango is one of the country’s sources of pride. It is known for “its striking yellow peel and flesh, ambrosial scent, and most importantly, its distinctly sweet yet slightly tart flavor,” to quote the words of Trina Leah Mendoza, of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

Philippine mango is the sweetest mango in the world.

Currently, DOST lists mango (scientific name: Mangifera indica) as one of the country’s export winners. The Philippines is sixth in world mango production, contributing 4% to world supply. Data from the agriculture department showed that mango ranks third as the most important fruit in the country in terms of volume of production and area after banana and pineapple.

Neighboring Asian countries like Hong Kong and Singapore have long been importing the country’s fresh mangoes, while other major markets are Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, and Australia. Recently, the Philippines has been exporting fresh mangoes to the United States.

90% of the country’s exports are fresh mangoes; the remaining 10% are in processed form like puree, jam, dehydrated, and dried mangoes. “The dried mango fruit from the Philippines was the best I had ever tasted,” observed Dr. Martin Hirte, a German health food researcher who authored The Benefits of Mango for Human Health.

Propagating the sweetest mangoes in the Philippines

Unlike other fruits which are edible only during ripe, mango has specific uses in all its stages of development. Immature or green mango could be used as a salad ingredient, appetizer, or as unfermented fruit or juice. Mature or ripe mango can be pickled or served as table fruit, and made into beverages or confectioneries like jam, candy pulp, ice cream, mango pie mix, and others.

Mango can be propagated through seeds (sexual) and through vegetative parts (asexual). However, SMIARC recommends using asexually propagated seedlings because the tree won’t grow very tall, bears fruit early, and produces true-to-type variety. The best soil for the crop is well-drained, fairly deep, loamy soil. It grows best in places with distinct dry (at least five months) and wet seasons. Soil acidity should range from medium to mildly alkaline. The elevation is below 600 meters.

Unlike other fruits which are edible only when ripe, mangos could be eaten in all its stages of its development.

The area where the seedlings are to be planted must be thoroughly prepared during the dry season. Planting is done during the start of the rainy season. Planting distance varies from 10-14 meters depending on growing conditions, slope, farm mechanization, and plan for systematic pruning and tree thinning. Wider spacing may be adopted if growing conditions and cultural practices are favorable for growth and development.

Trees take long to bear fruits thus intercropping must be practiced. Vegetables and field crops like upland rice, corn, mung bean and others are common intercrops. By planting intercrops, the area is fully utilized.

Improved technologies using the department’s research and development efforts are seen in different mango farms throughout the country. PCARRD also maintains the Mango Information Network, which addresses the information needs of the mango stakeholders.

Although the Philippines is a major mango exporting country, its average annual production of 1.4 million metric tons still lags behind India (10.8 million metric tons), China (3.62 million metric tons), Thailand (1.72 million metric tons), and Pakistan (1.7 million metric tons).