Mangoes are a tropical fruit crop that grows from trees. Mango trees produce flowers but few of those flowers produce fruit. It takes about three to five years before a newly planted tree starts to produce a decent yield of about four to six bushel baskets of mangoes. Mangoes taste better when left on the tree to ripen, but commercial growers often pick them several weeks before. Having a personal tree ensures picking mangoes at the right time.
Things You'll Need
- Pruning shears
Check mango fruit to see if they have ripened before picking. This can occur from three to five months from the time they flower, depending on conditions and variety. Give the fruit a pull and if the stem snaps off easily, it is ripe. If it stays attached to the tree and requires a strong pull, it should stay on the tree a little longer.
Check the color of the fruit before picking. A purple or reddish blush should be present at the base of the mango. The fruit should feel soft like a peach and not hard like an apple.
Pick fruit by hand gently pulling off the tree or using pruning shears. Try to leave a 4-inch stem at the top of the fruit. If the stem is cut short, a sticky, milky sap is released, which is messy.
Cut stems to 1/4-inch long when ready to store and place stem down in trays so sap can drain.
Store picked mangoes in an area no less than 50 to 55 degrees F.
Tips & Warnings
- Do not worry if sap does get on the fruit. Just wash it off before storing. Some mango producers use a bag on a pole to harvest fruit from upper branches of trees. These bags hold four pieces of fruit at a time.
- Many commercial growers pick mangoes before they ripen and store it at 55 degrees for three to eight days. They also treat mangoes 54 days after the flowers bloom with a chemical called Ethepon. This makes the fruit grow and ripen two weeks later instead of waiting for months.
- Sap left on fruit causes black lesions and rotting. Mangoes that fall to the ground bruise, so it is important to pick them before they fall. Optimal ripening temperatures are 70 to 75 degrees F. Any higher and fruit may shrivel and taste bad.
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