Mango trees are tropical-looking, low-maintenance shade trees capable of producing hundreds of juicy fruit once they reach fruit-bearing age. Grafted mango trees should begin producing fruit approximately three to five years after planting. To a certain degree, mature mango trees need to be stressed to temporarily cease vegetative growth in favor of fruit production. For most mango growers, assuming trees are healthy and disease-free, proper timing and application of pruning, fertilization and waterings will induce fruit-bearing on an annual basis.
Mango trees do not require a lot of pruning; however, some degree of annual pruning will stimulate new growth and promote uniform, annual fruit-bearing. Like many fruit-bearing plants, mango trees are prone to alternate-bearing, which means the tree will produce a heavy crop load one year and little to no fruit the next. Pruning and removing some flower clusters during heavy production years may help correct this problem. To avoid a loss in fruit, prune mango trees in the late spring or early winter after frost danger is over.
Mango trees require regular applications of fertilizer to grow and produce fruit. Provide fertilizer high in nitrogen for the first few years following planting, but before trees reach maturity. During fruit-bearing years, select a fertilizer slightly higher in phosphorus and potassium. Apply fertilizer up to four times per year, but only during the months of February through August. For best fruit production, only fertilize mangoes after fruit has set and never between the months of September and January. Improper fertilizer type or timing can result in vegetative tree growth at the expense of fruit production.
Frequent watering is not required for mango trees. In fact, overwatering can lead to a decline in the tree's health and fruit-bearing capacity. Dry weather preceding flowering is considered optimal for good fruit production. In commercial operations, fruit-bearing trees receive no irrigation two to three months prior to flowering, typically during the late fall or winter. When the blooms appear, the tree is heavily irrigated. Repeat heavy watering once a month until consistent rains begin.
Not many diseases affect mango production, but the ones that do exist can critically affect fruiting without quick and adequate control. In particular, anthracnose and powdery mildew are severe limiting factors to mango production in warm, humid climates. Flower blight, fruit rot and leaf spot are common symptoms of anthracnose. Infections will grow and eventually kill flowers, resulting in mango trees not producing fruit. Symptoms of powdery mildew include whitish, powdery fungus growth on flower panicles and leaves. This infection will also result in eventual failure to set fruit. Control these diseases by implementing a diligent fungicide program at first sign of infection.