Though mangoes start appearing on the retail fruit sellers’ shelves by late March, this year the fruit has remained conspicuous by its absence at the start of the second week of April.
The immediate reason is not the lockdown declared by the government to keep COVID-19 at bay. Climatic conditions marked by unseasonal rainfall and change in night-time temperatures have been cited as reasons for not only delay in hitting the markets but also a huge decline in yield.
While the yield will be limited, the harvesting of mangoes will also have to be staggered over the next two months, according to experts. “Mangoes require a good drought and harsh winter. But, they got neither of them,” said C.G. Nagaraju, MD of Karnataka State Mango Development and Marketing Corporation Ltd., referring to the unseasonal rain lashing the State last year followed by a relatively warm winter. “We did not see the night-time temperature dip below 12 degrees on many days,” he said. The climatic conditions had led to delayed and poor flowering.
“Overall, the yield is expected to be only 50% this year,” Mr. Nagaraju said. Mango orchards spread across 180,000 hectares of land in Karnataka – more concentrated in Kolar, Chickballapur, Ramanagaram, and other parts of Bengaluru rural in South parts, and Dharwad and Belagavi in the northern parts – can yield 1.2 to 1.4 mln tonnes of fruit a year, he said.