Mangos (Mangifera indica) were cultivated in India over 4,000 years ago. Known as the “fruit of the gods” or the “queen of fruits,” mangos were widely consumed throughout Southern Asia. Mangos eventually made their way via trade to Africa, Asia, Europe, and finally to the Americas. The first mangos were introduced and successfully cultivated in Florida in the early to mid-1800s. The Haden mango was the first commercially grown crop in Florida.
A member of the Anacardiaceae family, the mango tree is a relative of poison ivy, poison oak, and sumac—which means the plant produces urushiol, a chemical that causes an itchy rash. Luckily, mangos only produce small quantities, so even those who are sensitive to urushiol can usually consume the fruit’s flesh. Eaten both ripe and unripe, mangos are also dried and powdered to be sold as amchur, an Indian spice.
Types & Varieties
While the exact number of mango varieties is uncertain, there are at least 500 and perhaps as many as 1,000 with 350 grown commercially worldwide. In India, the world’s largest producer, mango types are usually classified as early, early to mid-season, mid-season, mid-to-late season, and late-season.
Common early-season mangos are Bombay Yellow, Malda, Pairi, Safdar Pasand, and Suvarnarekha; early to mid-season are Langra and Rajapuri; mid-season types include Alampur Baneshan, Alphonso, Bangalora, Banganapally, Dusehri, Gulab Khas, Zardalu, and K.O. 11; mid-to-late season are Rumani, Samarbehist, Vanraj, and K.O. 7/5; and late-season types include Fazli, Safeda Lucknow, Mulgoa, and Neelum.
Varieties sold in the United States are characterized by size, color, and firmness. The roundest variety is Haden, with bright yellow flesh and a firm texture. Kent is a soft, oval-shaped mango with a distinct tropical flavor. Tommy Atkins is shaped like Haden, but with a less robust flavor.
The largest mango variety is Keitt, completely green with a hint of yellow when they are fully ripe. The Francisque mango from Haiti is medium-sized and flat. There are two small varieties of mangos: Van Dyke and Ataulfo (rebranded as ‘Honey’ by the U.S. National Mango Board). Van Dykes have a pineapple-like flavor while Honey mangos are very sweet.
Mango trees are evergreens that can grow from about 30 to 100 feet tall. Commercial growers often trim and maintain the trees at 20 feet for ease of access. Soil should be well-drained with ample irrigation, which is crucial for mangos to thrive in lowland subtropical and tropical climates, particularly while establishing seedlings.
Trees produce small white flowers in clusters known as panicles. Little pollination is from bees, most is through butterflies, moths, beetles, ants, and even fruit bats. After pollination, fruit develops after three to six months, depending on type.
Established growers fit approximately 100 trees per planted acre, yielding from 165 to as many as 440 pounds of mangos per tree. Pruning is not necessary for growth, but performed two to four times a season after harvest to allow better access for spraying and subsequent pickings.
Fruit is usually picked by hand when mature but slightly unripe to better withstand shipping. Ripe mangos are generally yellow, orange, and red; skin ripens to yellow if mangos are in the shade and red when exposed to full sun.
Pests & Diseases
Poor preharvest practices or postharvest handling can cause skin abrasions, seed disorders, chilling or heat injury, flesh softening, and sapburn. Mangos are also vulnerable to anthracnose, powdery mildew, scab, leaf spot, wilt and verticillium wilt, stem-end rot, and witch’s broom. Pests of concern include aphids, beetles, mites, thrips, mealybugs, whiteflies, blackflies, and nematodes.
Storage & Packaging
Exposure to ethylene gas speeds up the ripening process, and takes from 5 to 9 days depending on the type of mango and ripeness of the fruit. Temperatures should not exceed 75°F to avoid shriveling and flavor impairment.
Ripening can be delayed by cold storage, but fruit should be kept no colder than 55°F to prevent chilling injury. Optimum storage temperatures are 55°F for mature green mangos and 50°F for partially or fully ripe mangos with 90 to 95% relative humidity. Careful handling, hot water treatments, postharvest fungicide, and maintaining optimum temperatures and humidity are key to avoiding postharvest spoilage.
References: National Mango Board, Purdue University, University of Florida/IFAS Extension, University of Illinois Extension, UC Davis Postharvest Technology Center.
GRADES & GOOD ARRIVAL
Mangos are divided as U.S. Fancy, U.S. No. 1, and U.S. No. 2: Fancy requires fruit be of similar varietal characteristics, mature, clean, well-formed, not overripe, and free from decay, discoloration, skin breaks, bruising, scabs and scars, shriveling or sunken areas, russeting, disease, insects, and freezing or mechanical injury.
For U.S. No. 1, the above applies though fruit should be fairly well-formed, not overripe, and free from damage caused by decay, discoloration, skin breaks, and damage caused by bruising, scabs and scars, shriveling or sunken areas, russeting, disease, insects, and freezing or mechanical injury; U.S. No. 2 follow U.S. No. 1 requirements differing only in allowing no serious damage from bruising, scabs and scars, shriveling or sunken areas, russeting, disease, insects, and freezing or mechanical injury.
Generally speaking, the percentage of defects shown on a timely government inspection certificate should not exceed the percentage of allowable defects, provided: (1) transportation conditions were normal; (2) the USDA or CFIA inspection was timely; and (3) the entire lot was inspected.
|U.S. Grade Standards||Days Since Shipment||% of Defects Allowed||Optimum Transit Temp. (°F)|
There are no good arrival guidelines for this commodity specific to Canada; U.S. guidelines apply to shipments unless otherwise agreed by contract.
References: DRC, PACA, USDA.