How to produce high yields of mango while at the same time reducing production costs is perhaps the most important information we gathered during the 18th National Mango Congress and Summit in Laoag City last March 15-17.

From the lectures and private conversations with Ricardo Tolentino, the Mango King from Ilocos Norte, we learned that it is very important to provide the mango trees with adequate fertilizers of the right kind. At the same time, you have to minimize the use of pesticides to cut the cost of production.

Carding, as Tolentino is more popularly called, recalled that the mango rehabilitation program initiated by Gov. Imee Marcos a few years back has proven that adequate fertilizers can significantly increase fruit production.

For instance, the old mango trees in Ilocos Norte used to produce about 1,000 kilos per tree. Then all of a sudden, the yield went down to 500 kilos. With just the application of complete fertilizer at five kilos per tree, the yield increased by 40 percent or an additional 200 kilos.

Now, based on his experience and observations, he recommends applying 6 kilos of processed organic fertilizer, 4 kilos of complete, and 2 kilos of 0-0-60 (muriate of potash) per mature tree. It is also very important to apply the chemical fertilizers in the right place. As per his observation, the chemical fertilizers should be buried four to six inches deep around 1.5 meters from the trunk. He has observed that the root hairs are most plentiful in that area. Previously, the recommendation was to apply the fertilizer much farther from the trunk—within the far end covered by the canopy.

At Flower Induction

At the time of spraying the trees with flower inducer, Carding recommends the inclusion of insecticide and fungicide in the spray solution. In doing so, the emerging flowers will already be protected from insects and fungal diseases. Carding added that you will only need to spray the trees three times against pests and diseases. This is much less than what many mango growers in Pangasinan are doing. In Pangasinan, the growers spray their trees as many as ten times against hoppers. And that is the reason why the insects have become immune to the pesticides.

Foliar Fertilization

Carding adds that foliar fertilization will help enhance higher yield. And speaking of foliar spray after flower induction, Charlie Meridores of AP+LB Agritech Development Inc., showcased the effects of his Better Harvest mango fruit enhancer at the mango congress.

He brought with him branches of mango heavy with fruits from the farm of a user of his product from Bulacan. He claims that Better Harvest prevents the premature fall of mango fruits. In addition, the fruits become bigger and also sweeter.

He shared the experience of Eduardo Arcenas of Masbate, who applied Better Harvest on his mango trees and harvested a total 3,260 kilos. Out of this quantity, 2,578 kilos consisted of big fruits each weighing more than 300 grams. Only 682 kilos were small, weighing 200 grams each.

Here’s how to apply Better Harvest. Dilute one liter of the product in 10 liters of clean water. Spray the fruits and leaves with a fine mist at 45 days after flower induction (DAFI). See to it that the leaves are thoroughly covered.

Three more sprayings are needed. The second spraying is at 60 DAFI, the third at 75 DAFI, and the last at 90 DAFI. Harvesting is 110 to 120 days after flower induction.

For best results, Charlie says, start spraying when the fruits are marble-sized, preferably in the morning before 9 a.m. or in the afternoon after 3 p.m. Don’t apply just before or after the rain or irrigation. He also emphasizes that Better Harvest is not a complete fertilizer. It is intended as supplement to the regular fertilization program.

Most Successful Congress

Judging from the number of participants—more than 800—from various parts of the country, the 18th National Mango Congress can be considered the most successful so far.

What the Congress has also achieved is the increasing cooperation among mango producers from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. They have come to the conclusion that they have to harmonize the schedule of fruiting so that oversupply during certain periods of the year can be avoided.

The Mindanao growers have agreed to avoid inducing their mango trees to fruit in April to May when the Luzon growers have their peak production. They have also come up with ways to deal with processors who often dictate their buying price. The Congress ended with a very merry Governor’s Night at the Malacañang of the North hosted by Gov. Imee Marcos, who promised her total support to the mango industry.

This appeared without a byline in Agriculture Monthly’s May 2016 issue.