Understanding mango fruit better (written by Willem Landman)

History: Mangoes originated in India over 4,000 years ago and are considered a sacred fruit. Mangoes spread gradually throughout Asia and then to the rest of the world. Persians carried mangoes across western Asia and planted seeds in east Africa in the 10th century. Portuguese explorers introduced mangoes to Brazil in the 16th century and from Brazil mangoes spread throughout the Americas. Asia grows 75 percent of all mangoes in the world.


Climacteric: Climacteric fruits are defined as fruits that enter a ‘climacteric phase’ after harvest i.e. they continue to ripen. During the ripening process the fruits emit ethylene along with increased rate of respiration. Ripe fruits are soft and delicate and generally cannot withstand rigours of transport and repeated handling. These fruits are harvested hard and green, but fully mature and are ripened for consumption. Small dose of ethylene is used to induce the ripening process under controlled conditions of temperature and humidity. Examples of climacteric fruits are: Mango, Banana, Papaya, Guava, Kiwi, Fig, Apple and Avocado


Maturity: It is the stage of fully physiological development of the fruit after which it will ripen normally. During the process of maturation the fruit receives a regular supply of nutrients from the plant. Afterwards, the fruit depend on its own reserves, In addition to this, typical flavour and characteristic colour also develop. It has been determined that the stage of maturity at the time of picking influence the quality of fruit. 

When picked immature, mango ripening is negatively affected and fruit can have a rubbery texture, wrinkled skin or a blotchy green and yellow skin colour. Therefore, it is necessary to pick mangoes at the correct stage of maturity to facilitate proper ripening.  One good indicator of correct maturity at harvest would be an even yellow colour development of the fruit pulp from pip to skin. Externally mature fruit would have proper shoulder development around the stem and the stem would appear slightly sunken.


Ripening: Mango is ripe when it attains the full flavour and aroma and characteristics of the particular cultivar. As the fruit ripen it loses the green colour as the chlorophyll degrades and the synthesis of other pigments follow.  Colour development is best if fruit is ripened at around 20 degrees Celsius with 95% relative humidity. Higher temperatures cause them to mature or spoil

quicker. Lower temperatures will cause “chilling injury,” and chilling injury can happen at what might be considered not that cold. Chilly injury can cause the mangoes no not ripen naturally and can some times be visible as a white line between the skin and the fruit pulp.


Defects and diseases: Several physiological defects are found on mango but the most prominent is jelly seed (break down of the fruit pulp around the seed). Although it is more severe between different cultivars, it is generally cause by to high 

amounts of nitrogen or to low amounts of calcium. The second most common are lenticel damage were the lenticels (pores) on the skin surface collapse and causes crater like symptoms on the fruit.   The two most important diseases are stem end rot and anthracnose.  Both are caused by pre harvest fungal infections and only become visible once the fruit start to ripen. Stem end rot will start around the stem end and the rotting will gradually penetrated the pulp until it reaches the seed. Anthracnose infections can be found anywhere on the fruit and symptoms sometimes manifest in a tear stain type lesion that starts at the top of the fruit and run down to the bottom..

Genetic: Mangoes are know to have mono embryonic and poly embryonicseed. Mono embryonic seeds produce one and only one seedling from a seed whereas a seed giving two or more seedlings are poly embryonic.  All but one of these seedlings will be clones of the mother tree. Both mono embryonic and poly embryonic seeds have their advantages and although very rare, it is well worthknowing what fruit trees produce poly embryonic seeds.  Another advantage of mono embryonic seeds is that because they only contain one embryo, they tend to be smaller than poly embryonic seeds. This means you get more flesh from fruit with mono embryonic seeds.

Fun Facts: 

  • Mangoes are related to pistachios and cashews.
  • In India, folklore states that mango trees can grant wishes. 
  • Mangoes are eaten across the world more than any other fruit. 
  • India is the top producer of mangoes in the world.
  • Green mangoes contain more vitamin C than ripe mangoes.
  • The oldest mango orchard has been in production for over 400 years.
  • Mangoes are called the “king of fruit” because their flavour is a mix of oranges, peaches, and pineapples.
  • Mango are also amongst the most versatile fruit and can be use from immature green fruit (salsa, Achar https://www.indianhealthyrecipes.com/mango-pickle-recipe/) to fresh as salad and juice. 





About me:
I truly believe that agriculture is the investment to a greener future.

Having graduated in B Science Agriculture (Hons) (Microbiology and Plant Pathology) at the University of Pretoria South Africa, I have over 25 years of experience in agriculture, ranging from extension officer for the South African Mango Growers Association to procurement, marketing, fruit and vegetable exports into the UK retail market and research (registered a patent on the inhibition of Avocado browning after cutting in 2016)

I have worked on various crops in different locations in Africa, Europe, Australia and now in Hong Kong and China. My passion has always been on sustainable and environmentally sound agricultural practices and I have been providing management support for farmers to embrace “Green farming”, and to build a positive focus towards environmental friendly and sustainable agriculture.