Mango farming in Kenya has gained popularity over the years due to the high demand for the fruit both locally and internationally. The country’s tropical climate makes it an ideal location for growing mango trees, which can be a profitable venture for farmers. Mangoes are not only delicious but also highly nutritious, making them a valuable addition to any diet.
Before embarking on mango farming, it is essential to understand the basics of growing mango trees. The first step is to select the right mango cultivar that is well adapted to the local conditions, including rainfall and dry periods. Proper land preparation is also crucial, involving deep plowing, harrowing, and levelling with a gentle slope for ease of drainage.
Mango trees take about five years to produce fruit, so patience is key to successful mango farming. Proper spacing of the trees is also essential, depending on the growth rate and vegetative growth in the area. This article will provide a comprehensive guide on how to grow mango trees in Kenya, including selecting the right cultivar, land preparation, planting, maintenance, and harvesting.
Climate and Soil Requirements
Mango trees require specific soil and climate conditions to thrive. In Kenya, the following are the optimal climate and soil requirements for growing mango trees:
- Temperature: Mango trees grow well in areas with temperatures ranging from 24°C to 27°C.
- Rainfall: Mango trees require an annual rainfall of at least 1000mm to 1500mm. However, excessive rainfall can lead to fruit drop and diseases.
- Humidity: Mango trees prefer areas with moderate to high humidity levels ranging from 60% to 90%.
- Wind: Strong winds can damage mango trees, so it is best to plant them in areas with windbreaks or natural barriers.
Mango trees require well-drained soils with good water-holding capacity. The following are the optimal soil requirements for growing mango trees:
|Soil Type||pH Level||Nutrients|
|Sandy loam soil||6.0-7.5||High in nitrogen, medium in phosphorus and potassium|
|Clay loam soil||6.5-7.5||High in phosphorus, medium in nitrogen and potassium|
|Laterite soil||5.0-6.5||High in iron, low in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium|
It is important to note that mango trees are sensitive to soil salinity, so it is best to avoid planting them in areas with high salt levels. Additionally, it is recommended to conduct a soil test to determine the soil’s nutrient content and pH level before planting mango trees.
Mango Varieties in Kenya
Mango is a popular fruit in Kenya, and there are several varieties of mangoes grown in the country. The following are some of the most common mango varieties in Kenya:
- Apple Mango: This is the most popular mango variety in Kenya and is loved for its deep flavor and sweetness. It is also known as the Kent mango.
- Tommy Atkins: This is a popular mango variety in Kenya, and it is known for its juicy and sweet taste. It is also resistant to diseases and pests.
- Ngowe: This mango variety is long and thin, and it has a sweet and tangy taste. It is also known as the East African mango.
- Keitt: This is a large mango variety that is oval-shaped, and it has a sweet taste. It is also known for its long shelf life.
When choosing a mango variety to grow, it is important to consider the climate and soil conditions in your area. Some mango varieties do well in certain regions, while others do not. It is also important to choose a variety that is resistant to diseases and pests.
Additionally, new dwarf hybrids like Amrapali are becoming increasingly popular in Kenya. These hybrids are planted at closer spacing and can produce more fruit per tree.
Also Read: Mango Varieties In Kenya
Planting Mango Trees
The success of growing mango trees in Kenya depends on several factors, including the soil, climate, and planting techniques. Here are some tips to help you plant your mango trees:
- Choose a spot that receives plenty of sunlight and has well-draining soil with a pH level of 5.5-7.5.
- Prepare the land by deep plowing and leveling with a mild slope.
- Space the trees according to the variety you are planting. A spacing of 5m x 5m is recommended for dwarf hybrids like Amrapali, while 8m x 8m is suitable for areas with substantial rainfall and rich soils.
- When digging the hole for planting, make sure it is two to four times the size of the rootball.
- Remove any grass around the planting area to make room for the tree.
- Plant the tree in a hole that is deep enough to cover the roots, but not so deep that the graft union is below the soil surface.
- Water the tree immediately after planting and regularly thereafter to ensure the soil remains moist.
By following these planting tips, you can give your mango trees the best chance of thriving in Kenya’s climate and producing a bountiful harvest.
Fertilization and Irrigation
Mango trees require proper fertilization and irrigation to grow and produce healthy fruits. Here are some important tips to keep in mind:
- Apply fertilizer to mango trees every 2-3 months during the growing season.
- Use a balanced fertilizer with a ratio of 10-10-10 or 12-12-12.
- Apply fertilizer evenly around the tree, starting from the trunk and extending out to the drip line.
- Do not work the fertilizer into the soil, as this can damage the tree’s roots.
- Water the tree lightly after each fertilizer application to help the nutrients reach the roots.
Proper irrigation is also essential for mango trees. Here are some tips to follow:
- Water young mango trees every 2-3 days during the dry season.
- Water mature trees deeply once a week during the dry season.
- Use drip irrigation to minimize water loss and ensure even distribution of water.
- Avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot and other problems.
- Monitor the soil moisture level regularly and adjust the watering schedule as needed.
By following these tips for fertilization and irrigation, you can help ensure that your mango trees grow healthy and produce abundant fruits.
Pest and Disease Management
Mango trees are susceptible to a variety of pests and diseases that can significantly reduce yields and even kill the trees. Proper management practices can help prevent and control these problems. Here are some of the most common pests and diseases of mango trees in Kenya:
Fruit fly: The fruit fly is a major pest of mango trees in Kenya. It lays its eggs in the fruit, which then hatch into larvae that feed on the flesh of the fruit, causing it to rot. To control fruit flies, farmers can use traps, bait sprays, and cultural practices such as removing fallen fruit from the orchard.
Mango hopper: The mango hopper is another common pest of mango trees in Kenya. It feeds on the leaves and shoots of the tree, causing them to wilt and die. To control mango hoppers, farmers can use insecticides or biological control methods such as releasing parasitic wasps.
Mango mealybug: The mango mealybug is a small, white insect that feeds on the sap of the tree, causing stunted growth and yellowing of the leaves. To control mango mealybugs, farmers can use insecticides or release natural predators such as ladybugs.
Also Read: Pest Affecting Mango Farming In Kenya
Anthracnose: Anthracnose is a fungal disease that causes black spots on the fruit and leaves of the mango tree. To control anthracnose, farmers can use fungicides and cultural practices such as pruning to improve air circulation in the orchard.
Powdery mildew: Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that causes a white, powdery coating on the leaves of the mango tree. To control powdery mildew, farmers can use fungicides and cultural practices such as removing infected leaves and improving air circulation in the orchard.
Dieback: Dieback is a disease that causes the branches of the mango tree to wither and die. To control dieback, farmers can prune infected branches and use fungicides to prevent the spread of the disease.
Preventive methods based on proper crop and habitat management are encouraged. Direct methods of control are reserved for emergencies only. Synthetic insecticides and fungicides are not allowed in organic mango production. Farmers should consult with agricultural experts and follow recommended management practices to prevent and control pests and diseases.
Harvesting and Post-Harvest Management
Mangoes in Kenya are generally harvested during one season. Harvesting should be done when the fruit is fully mature, but not overripe. The fruit should be picked by hand, and care should be taken to avoid damaging the fruit or the tree. It is important to handle the fruit carefully to avoid bruising, which can lead to spoilage.
Once the fruit has been harvested, it should be sorted and graded according to size and quality. The fruit should be washed and dried before packing. The fruit should be packed in clean, dry containers, and care should be taken to avoid overpacking, which can damage the fruit.
Post-harvest management is critical to maintaining the quality of the fruit. The fruit should be stored in a cool, dry place to prevent spoilage. The ideal temperature for storing mangoes is between 13°C and 16°C. The fruit should be checked regularly for signs of spoilage, and any spoiled fruit should be removed immediately to prevent it from contaminating the rest of the fruit.
It is also important to protect the fruit from pests and diseases. The fruit should be treated with appropriate pesticides to prevent infestation. Care should be taken to use the correct dosage of pesticides, as using too much can lead to residue on the fruit, which can be harmful to consumers. Organic methods of pest control should also be considered.
Sources: Korir, J. K., et al. “Grower adoption of an integrated pest management package for management of mango-infesting fruit flies (Diptera: Tephritidae) in Embu, Kenya.” International Journal of Tropical Insect Science 35.2 (2015): 80-89. Link: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/international-journal-of-tropical-insect-science/article/grower-adoption-of-an-integrated-pest-management-package-for-management-of-mangoinfesting-fruit-flies-diptera-tephritidae-in-embu-kenya/141FF0939CB3AC2A12287426E281B9B7
Griesbach, Juergen. Mango growing in Kenya. World Agroforestry Centre, 2003. Link: https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=2r4JTIMjkHgC&oi=fnd&pg=PT6&dq=+Mango+Trees+kenya&ots=lFqyTDOnNL&sig=Og_0DXjQDfibQqfrk_9NMWkIt6M