Australia’s mango season is getting longer. Leo Skliros, the president of the Northern Territory Mango Industry Association, is one of the state’s mango farmers who can get their trees to flower and produce mangoes early, when the luscious tropical fruit is a winter luxury and attracts higher prices, making them competitive with the established Queensland market. Added to that, he grows Kensington Pride mangoes.
Skliros explains: “It’s all about timing. You’ve got to be in the right place at the right time. Just about everything you do can affect the outcome, but timing of fertilisers and pruning are critical.” It’s complex, but Skliros does reveal that certain fertilisers are used to lower nitrogen and lift calcium levels, and when cooler nights slip in, potassium nitrate can be sprayed to encourage flowering.
Tim Elliott from Red Rich Fruits says timing of fertilisers is also influenced by moon cycles, atmospheric pressure and temperature fluxes, which can make a difference between flowering or flushing into leaf.
Some farmers use cincturing (cutting a ring around the tree’s trunk) to promote flowering, although that can affect the tree’s health, according to Elliott. Another tactic Skliros mentions is bonsaiing the trees. In addition to mechanical pruning this involves chemicals that target the roots and keep the size of the trees more manageable so they don’t grow too fast, too high or too vigorously.