BANGALORE: Most mango growing regions and belts have yielded fruits that are smaller this year. This is because of lack of sufficient moisture in the soil, say experts.
Y T N Reddy, principal scientist, Division of Fruit Crops at the Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR), Bangalore, said: “After the fruit sets (pea stage) in mango, it is recommended to irrigate 2-3 times to increase fruit size and quality. However, in most mango growing regions, especially in Karnataka, there was severe drought due to lack of sufficient rainfall in the previous years.”
As a result, there was practically no soil moisture available for plant growth and development.
Reddy said while “stress conditions” are ideal for flowering, for fruit growth and development, sufficient soil moisture is needed. Around 90 per cent of the mango orchards are rain-fed, and due to the poor rainfall there was an acute “moisture stress” leading to reduced fruit size.
In Karnataka, five to six varieties of mangoes are grown commercially in about 1,30,000 hectares.
Alphonso is grown in 40 per cent of the land, Bangalore in 20 per cent, Banganapally and Neelam in 10 per cent, Pairi in 5 per cent, Mallika in 2 per cent and others in 13 per cent.
Fruit size and fruit weight have reduced by 20-25 per cent in all varieties. Totapuri, Pairi, Mulgoa, Banganapally, Mallika and Alphonso fruit sizes have reduced more than Neelam, Kalapady, Rumani etc.
Reddy said, “The water table should be below six feet. In young and irrigated orchards, fruit size and weight are invariably more compared to old and non-irrigated mango orchards.”
In general, small-sized mangoes fetch less price compared to bigger ones.
In grading also, the smaller ones are graded in the lower category, and may be rejected.
“The percentage of marketable fruits will come down due to fruit size and fruit weight reduction,” another mango expert told Express.