This year’s UF/IFAS Extension Collier County Annual Mango Morning class partnered with the Florida Forest Service to teach participants how to properly plant and prune mango trees. After an indoor lecture, we took 50 class participants into the Collier Extension Fruit Grove to pick up some tools and try out the techniques for themselves.
When tropical fruit trees grow too tall they loose their lower canopy and only the middle and top of the tree will flower and set fruit. This becomes a real problem for commercial and backyard mango growers.
Many homeowners are hesitant to prune their mango trees, but mangos are resilient and strong trees that are adapted to hurricane prone areas. They can handle pruning and in many cases thrive when pruned properly. Since tropical fruit trees can get out of control quickly, by the time you think to control for height, the tree and fruit are out of reach. This class taught participants how to properly plant mango trees, how to start controlling height from an early stage through tipping and shaping, yearly pruning maintenance, and what to do if reduction cuts need to be made. These skills will set-up backyard and commercial growers for success in years to come.
There are many good reasons to keep fruit trees in your backyard grove or commercial operation between 12 and 15 feet. These include:
- To control their size and shape to better spray for pests, disease or nutrients
- To promote earlier flower and quality fruit production
- To keep fruit producing in the lower portions of the canopy, where you can easily harvest them
- To remove unhealthy and unthrifty parts of the tree, crossed branches or dead wood
- Open the tree up to sufficient light
- To reduce the chances trees will break apart, fall over or be damaged during a tropical storm or hurricane
Pruning your tropical fruit tree takes time, foresight, a little bit of science, and a little bit of art. The “Hand Pruning and training of Tropical and Subtropical Fruit Trees” is an excellent place to start.
Below are some highlights from our Mango Morning class: