One of the commonest fruit trees in Uganda is the mango. Mango seasons rhyme with the rainy seasons. For example, the trees flower when the rains come in March and then fruits are ready by June. They then flower again in October and fruits are ready by December.
However, if a farmer practises irrigation, then the trees are capable of producing mangoes all year round.
Types/varieties of mangoes in Uganda
There are three types of mangoes common in Uganda; small canopy: Florigon, Glenn, Dancan, Early Gold, Erwin, Palmar, Palvin.
Medium canopy and fairly early yielding varieties include Zillate, Pinero, Alfonso, Apple, Kent, Keitt.
Large canopy and fairly early yielding varieties are Boribo, Ssejjembe and Bire. Ssejjembe, Ssu and Kate are some of the local selections.
Soils and site selection
Mangoes require deep soils with good drainage and can thrive in a wide range of soil types. With their deep roots, they can go deeper than most fruit trees, which is why even when dry spells ravage other trees in regions such as Teso, mango trees remain relatively green.
In Uganda, they are commonly grown in Luwero, Mityana, Mubende and parts of Masaka, Teso and Bukedi regions and West Nile.
It is best to plant a mango that is grafted, young and healthy. You can get these from commercial seedlings dealers. A young and healthy tree will quickly establish and should bear fruit in two to three years.
The tree should be grafted and not from seed for several reasons. A tree from seed is the product of the mother tree, which is one type of mango (variety) and the pollinating tree which is another variety.
Because of this combination, you never know what type of fruit your seedling will produce. A tree that has been grafted is essentially a clone of the parent tree and is, therefore, sure to be the type of mango you desire.
A grafted tree will also produce fruit faster than a tree from seed.
When planting your mango, the hole dug should be slightly larger than the seedling cover of the mango tree. It should be at least one foot deep. If the soil is rocky, break up the surrounding soil, so the roots have somewhere to grow.
The main point to remember when planting a mango is to plant the tree at the proper level, with the trunk above the soil level and the crown roots level with the soil.
Placing the trunk below the soil level can cause in severe nutrient deficiencies and poor growth. Usually, planting the tree at the same depth it was in the container will suffice, but always check to make sure it was not planted too low or too high in the container.
Cut the container that the tree is in for easy removal and make the hole two to three times wider than the container.
Make the hole no deeper than the height of the root ball.
Gently place the tree straight in the hole and fill around the ball with soil, gently firming it.
Water thoroughly while planting, to remove any air pockets. Mulch with a two to three-inch layer of organic material to buffer soil temperature, conserve moisture and reduce weed competition.
You can use local manure at a rate of five tonnes per acre per year.
Correct watering of a new mango tree is crucial. The tree should be watered immediately after planting. This watering should be thorough, filling all the air pockets in the soil.
The soil should be tamped gently at this time to further ensure the removal of air pockets. Be careful not to water your mango too often. Overwatering a tree can be just as deadly as not watering a tree at all.
verwatering can cause the roots to rot.
The best way to judge if a new mango needs water is to check the soil to see if it is dry. After the first few days of watering, the schedule should begin to decrease at steady increments. Switch to watering every other day, then every three days and finally once a week, until the tree is no longer dependent on your watering (three months).
Planting during the rainy season (March-May or September to November) is by far the best way to easily establish new plantings.
Most mangoes are established within three to six months from time of planting. Once your mango is established, no supplemental irrigation is needed.
After three years, mangoes should be ready to start producing. However, at this point, look out for the fruit flies. You can handle these by buying fruit fly traps at a rate of two per acre.
Each container costs between sh20,000- sh40,000 from agri-input shops.
Mango trees can remain productive for as many as 30 years.