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Author Topic: Growing Mango trees in Southern California  (Read 368 times)

simon_grow

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Growing Mango trees in Southern California
« on: March 17, 2017, 07:30:57 PM »
I get lots of questions regarding how best to plant a Mango tree here in SoCal so I decided to start this thread. I should first qualify, or disqualify, myself as I am a relatively new mango grower and my trees are not the largest nor healthiest. I'm a typical lazy backyard gardener, often putting my daughters before my plants so my trees rarely get fertilizer these days and it's probably been over a year since I adjusted the pH of the rootzone with phosphoric acid and Sulfur.

A serious gardener will send out soil samples for analysis and this thread is not for the serious mango grower. This thread will be very general without any advanced techniques or equipment. This is the "Keep It Simple Stupid" technique using easy to find rootstock and some experience I've gained from mentors like Leo Manuel, Jim Neitzel and many others.

I've been killing mango trees for years so listen to my advice with a grain of salt but I am quite knowledgeable about the science of growing mango trees. First of all, when someone tells you what or how to do something, there should be a reason why. If that person is not giving an explanation why they do it that way or has some proof that the technique works, you may want to look elsewhere for advice.

I'll have to continue this subject in short segments as my kids keep me extremely busy.

Simon

simon_grow

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Re: Growing Mango trees in Southern California
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2017, 08:08:00 PM »
So, why not just plant a mango tree that you buy from the local nursery like you would any other fruit tree? There are several reasons. Firstly, Mangos are marginal here in SoCal and although they can withstand the cold in some counties of Southern California, they cannot easily grow unprotected in many other counties of SoCal. Mango growth is heavily influenced by climate and wether new growth is vegetative(leaves and shoots) or floral is primarily dependent on temperature. This holds true for Mangos in SoCal but not necessarily in warmer climates where age of previous flushes can also be of major significance. Aside from age of flushes and temperature, nutrition can aid in flowering promoting bigger or more flowers and can even help inhibit fruit drop.

Please see this article for in depth information on Mango flowering:
http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S1677-04202007000400007&script=sci_arttext

Simon

simon_grow

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Re: Growing Mango trees in Southern California
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2017, 08:58:44 PM »
The three major problems growing Mango trees here is the cold weather, diseases and high pH soils. For areas where Mango can grow unprotected outdoors, we have the issue of continual flowering caused by the cold weather. A new Mango grower is often attracted to the beautiful small potted mango trees in full bloom often holding some small fruit. What typically happens is the happy customer purchases this tree and tries to allow the small tree to mature the fruit. If the tree is large enough, the grower may actually be able to harvest a few fruit. The fruit quality is often mediocre at best and the tree becomes stunted from the efforts. The following year, the tree often grows very little and will often try to bloom again as cold weather approaches.

Because the tree was stressed holding fruit the first year, there is very little root and shoot growth the following year and the grower may actually experience what I like to call the "Magical Shrinking Tree" where instead of growing, the tree actually recedes with each passing year. In Warmer climates, a tree may simply veg out the following year in order to recover but in marginal climates, the cold weather is too strong a stimulus and the tree will flower again in the second, third, and following years. Flowering here in SoCal can take up to half a year or more.

Flowering can begin as early as October(sometimes earlier) and nightly low temperatures can still induce blooms as late as June and July as it did with some of my trees last year. I posted pictures somewhere but I forgot which thread. Foryounger trees, this often means we only get one long flowering cycle and only one vegetative flush, Ive experienced 0 growth flushes in a year for several trees, instead, it flowered again after a rest period.

Simon

Samu

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Re: Growing Mango trees in Southern California
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2017, 10:18:50 PM »
I am book marking this tread!
Thanks a lot Simon...and happy to see you active again in this forum!  ;D
Sam

JF

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Re: Growing Mango trees in Southern California
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2017, 10:43:40 PM »
This is a worthy thread for anyone to bookmark especially SoCal mango growers. Thank you for the thread Simon!

rliou

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Re: Growing Mango trees in Southern California
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2017, 12:26:00 AM »
Thanks simon for the great thread.  One thing to consider in southern california for mangos are rootstocks.  Some varieties grow ok on terpentine (VP, LZ and alphonso) but for other varieties it can yeild slow growth.  JF and simon have been experimenting with rootstocks.  We do notice that while on manilla the growth seems to be faster.  I am conducting an experiment on two julie trees.  One is on double rootstock (terpentine plus manilla) the other just turpentine.  I am puttingnthem at dame location next to each other to see if growth rate is indeed difference.  It is also conceivable that some of the faster growth could be related to actually having a tap root on manilla trees. Florida turpentine trees tend to not have tap roots
Robert

simon_grow

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Re: Growing Mango trees in Southern California
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2017, 12:59:10 PM »
Thanks guys, it's good to be back. I will talk about rootstocks briefly but because Lavern Manilla is widely available here and it has been successful for so many of us here, I will simply recommend this rootstock as the number one choice for growers here. Rootstocks will be mentioned as part of the discussions on Temperature, diseases and pH.

The rliou, the more people experimenting and documenting, the better. I have a lot of new insight that I'll share in this thread that will hopefully allow us to grow more and better quality mangos here in SoCal.

Simon

simon_grow

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Re: Growing Mango trees in Southern California
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2017, 01:51:08 PM »
Because weather has such a big influence on the growth of Mango trees here, we need to stop our current practice of picking out that little mango tree in full bloom or holding small fruit. I highly recommend using Lavern Manilla seedlings available at most Home Depot's and other garden centers as the number one choice when it comes to rootstocks for growing mango in SoCal. If you're trying to save money or plan on doing a lot of your own grafting, you will need a lot more starting material and I recommend planting lots of polyembryonic and Monoembryonic seeds from store bought mangos that you eat.

With Manilla or random seedlings as rootstock, plant the seed or seedlings in its permanent location in the warmest area of your yard. It is a good idea to plant in native soil that is loosened to a depth of at least 12-18 inches if possible. Deeper is better to some extent but in many yards across California, you will hit an extremely hard layer of rocks and clay just several inches below the topsoil.

It is extremely important that you do not over amend the planting hole with too much organic material as this will decompose over time and your tree will sink. Even when planting in 100% native soil that is loosened, I recommend planting the tree above grade. Because the soil was loosened, it will compact and the tree will drop over the years. This issue can be exacerbated by over amending with organics. If you backfilled the hole with 30% organic matter, plan on the tree dropping 30% plus additional drop from loosening native soil.

simon_grow

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Re: Growing Mango trees in Southern California
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2017, 02:41:49 PM »
The planting hole should be square and not round. Amendments can be added on top of the soil and I highly recommend mulching the rhizosphere or drip zone. Im not going into detail in regards to planting, fertilizing or mulching, each of these subjects can take up a whole thread and many of these have in fact been discussed in previous threads so if you're looking for more information, try the search function above. I will provide links to threads of great significance where needed and I will include links to scholarly articles and research where pertinent.

Simon

simon_grow

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Re: Growing Mango trees in Southern California
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2017, 01:17:07 PM »
When you plant your tree, it is very important to know the pH of your soil. You can send samples out for analysis but this may be too much trouble for the new mango grower. Instead, I recommend purchasing a simple pH test kit for soils or asking your local nursery if they can test or recommend a test kit to find out the pH of your soil. I've tested the pH of the soil and water at several locations all around San Diego and the majority of samples for soil and water were above 7.8.

Mangos grow well in the pH range of about 5.5-7.5. Outside of this range, it becomes difficult for the plant to uptake certain nutrients. Here in SoCal, we mostly have to worry about the pH of our soils being too high. Even if we brought down the pH of our soils with the use of Sulfur, Phosphoric acid/water drenches, the pH will generally drift back up and out of the acceptable range due in large part to a the buffering capacity of the soil itself and the pH raising affects of our local tapwater.

simon_grow

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Re: Growing Mango trees in Southern California
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2017, 09:53:55 PM »
Once you have your tree planted, keep it watered but don't over do it. When a tree is first planted, it will need more frequent watering as the roots have not established yet but keep in mind that Mangos are regarded as drought tolerant and when the rootzone is kept constantly moist, there is little physiological need for the plant to send its roots out farther in search of more resources. I would hazard to guess that more rookie Mango growers have killed their mango trees from over watering rather than under watering. Over watering can decrease oxygen levels, promoting anaerobic conditions which can lead to root rot.

I want to re emphasize here that you should be planting seedlings that are not grafted. This means that you will either need to learn to graft or know someone that can do the grafting for you. This may seem like a lot of trouble to go through but if you want a healthy, large and productive tree, I highly recommend this route if you are looking for something other than Valencia Pride, Alphonso and a few other varieties that seem to perform ok on Florida/Turpentine rootstock.

If you do plant a pre grafted Florida/Turpentine rootstock tree, you will get annual blooms which will significantly slow down the overall growth of your tree. I also want to point out that not all Turpentine rootstock are bad performers here in SoCal. Leo Manuel has planted Turpentine seeds and used them with success.

Simon

 

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