King of fruits set to reign, thanks to rain

Mango gardens have survived early setbacks to promise a record yield

bumper crop:  Washed by the recent rains, bright green mangoes sparkle in a grove at Panasamakanahalli near Srinivasapura. dh photo

The showers have brought down the temperature and farmers are hopeful that the increased moisture will check fruit fall in mango groves and increase yield.

Only a hail storm or very heavy rain accompanied by gale force winds can dash such hopes, but there are no indications of such adverse weather, to the delight of farmers and traders.

In the groves across the district, trees laden with fruit stand magnificently, filled with green leaves. The rain has given the nature’s bath to the fruit which is predominantly green, but is replete with the promise of proper ripening.

The district has about 47% of the acreage under mango in the State (1,17,381 ha). Srinivasapur is famed for being a virtually total mango growing taluk with 22,325 ha under the fruit. Other taluks in the district are no laggards either. Mango is grown in Mulbagal (11,670 ha), Bangarpet (3,461 ha), Kolar (4,294 ha) and Malur 1,427 ha).

Mango is one crop that runs through the gamut of a host of adversities before it arrives on your plate. Rain, storms, heavy winds, pests, rising input costs, market fluctuations are the obstacles that the fruit has to cross.

Farmers believe that mango and tamarind have alternate bumper crop years. If, in an year, tamarind yield is high, mango crop is less. In a year of heavy mango yield, tamarind takes a hit.

By that logic, it should have been a bumper year for mango, but the crop has undergone a path of woes. Like last year, this year too, heavy rain led to fall at flower stage to the farmers’ mortification, but the fall proved less than feared.

Given that the rain cycle has gone complete awry over the years (due to global warming, as the farmers believe), growers feared that the crop may take more blows in the form of more unseasonal rain that may lead to fruit fall or even diseases like the dreaded powdery mildew, but to their delight, that was not to be. The intermittent rain that has been witnessed over the past few weeks has actually helped the crop.

This however does not mean that all is hunky dory for the farmers. The flower fall early in the season affected the expensive varieties such as Badami and Benisha. Most of the trees turned bare and bald.

The varieties that are heavy with fruit are the cheaper varieties such as Totapuri, Neelam and Rajgira, but even these might yield about 50 per cent of the best scenario, according to the octogenarian farmer Ramappa of Panasamakanahalli.

“The rain has been helpful. The fruit will become bigger and heavier,” says Assistant Agriculture Officer Shiva Reddy. The year 2009 was a truly bumper year with the district delivering 4,64,115 tonnes of mango. Despite the early setbacks, groves are set to break that record, farmers feel.

Truly, mango in the district is on the go!

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