There are quite a few mango trees growing on our new homestead. I recently featured one huge specimen in a neighboring lot on my YouTube channel:
I’ve written quite a bit on the value of growing trees from seed. Though the power of grafting, you can take almost any seedling tree that turns out “so-so” in flavor and transform it later into something better. It’s one of the principles I cover in my Get Grafting! film as it’s such a powerful piece of knowledge.
Plant seeds, let them grow into trees with amazing taproots, then graft on top if you don’t like what you get.
You can do this with mango trees easily – even adult trees.
…one day in one of our personal weekend expeditions intended to educate ourselves, we happened upon Pabon’s farm in Polo, Polomolok, South Cotabato close to the foot of Mount Matutum, with vast plantation of Dole pineapple to the west. The farm was planted to hundreds of mango trees which, aged about 5 years old with trunk diameter of about 10-15 cm (4-6 in), have already started producing fruits.
When the farm owner bought the grafted seedlings, he was assured by the vendor that the seedlings were those of the “Luzon” variety, supposedly one of the best of the Philippine Carabao variety. But, to his dismay, he discovered that the fruits were entirely different from that of the Carabao variety, now also called Manila Supersweet mango or simply Philippine mango and others.
Totally convinced then of the viability of mango farming, the farm owner had no choice but to replace the mango trees by replanting new seedlings. Luckily, he did not right away cut the trees. He started planting grafted seedlings from a reliable source in between the existing rows. That was when we passed by, noticed the new plantings, and became curious why he did it.
To cut it short, we advised him that he could still proceed with his plan of going into mango farming without replanting which would mean another expenditure and waiting years for the seedlings to mature…
Turn Trees Into Better Trees
Topworking mango trees is easy but it’s also possible with most fruit trees. Some, like apple, are REALLY easy to graft. Others are a bit more touchy. However, if you screw up your grafting, you won’t kill the tree. You can try, try again.
On our new property there are some mangoes that are loaded with strings. The flavor is good, but the flesh is so filled with threads that you spend the next few hours picking bits out of your teeth. Another tree, however, has fat orange-fleshed mangoes without any threads at all.
All over the place there are mango seedlings of varied parentage. If I wanted to transform any of them into whatever variety I like, I could cut them back and graft the resulting shoots and be getting mangoes in much shorter period of time than if I replaced those little trees with purchased specimens from a nursery. Think of all the roots on an established tree – that’s a resource you want to use!
If you’ve got a sour orange in your yard, don’t yank it up and plant a Navel – find a friend with a Navel and graft it on top. It will be stronger and fruit faster. Same thing with any fruit tree that doesn’t quite strike your fancy. Learn to graft and everything will fall into place.
One of these days I’ll do a video on topworking mango trees… I just need to choose a good victim!