Eight by Fifteen
Posted on: Tuesday, September 16, 2014 by Darryl McCullough
Eight feet tall and fifteen feet across are the ideal dimensions for a mango tree, at least according Steve Brady when he spoke to our club a few months back. And he's far from alone in this school of thought. Richard Campbell, Director of Horticulture and Senior Curator of Tropical Fruit at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, strongly advocates small mango trees for commercial as well as dooryard growers.
As Campbell presents it, the 20th-century thinking among commercial growers was to grow large trees for their large production. The 21st-century philosophy holds that the four or five smaller trees that will fit into the space of one large tree can furnish comparable production, with far easier pruning, spraying, and harvesting.
I'll leave it to the big kids to fight this one out in the marketplace, but for the home grower, small mango trees have many advantages. Limited space is often an issue, and we generally prefer a long season of steady production over a short-lived avalanche of fruit. A trio of modest-sized early-, mid-, and late-fruiting varieties might keep mangos on the shelf for much of the spring and summer, and still leave room for that Hak Ip lychee or whatever else one might fancy. The Fairchild-recommended dwarf and semi-dwarf varieties include Rosigold and Manalita for the early season, mid-season favorites Cogshall, Fairchild, Mallika, and Nam Doc Mai, and Graham and Neelum for the late summer. One might add the much-loved Keitt. Though it wants to be a somewhat larger tree, it gives marvelous fruit and can extend the harvest well into fall.
As always, of course, there's another side of the issue. One can hardly be faulted for planting a Valencia Pride, a Kent, or any of a number of other famous vigorous-growers. A mango harvest in the hundreds of pounds can keep a lot of friends and relatives happy, or it might bring in enough extra bucks to buy a lot of MRFC Fruitilizer. Just keep that pole saw handy.