Rain effect: fewer and less delicious mangoes this year

Rain effect: fewer and less delicious mangoes this year

If you thought you will get plenty of luscious, affordable mangoes to eat this summer, you will be in for a disappointment. Last week's unseasonal rain has not only delayed the arrival of mangoes to the market but will also likely affect their deliciousness. And there will be far fewer mangoes compared with last year.

Rain has delayed the flowering and fruiting of mango trees. Experts and government officials agree that both the quantity and quality of mangoes would be hit this time as it's an off year with a low yield.

While people enjoyed the sudden showers in March, mango growers were a worried lot as the rainfall spoilt the flowering. To make matters worse, the recent hailstorm in south interior Karnataka - especially Nelamanagala, Kolar, Chikkaballapur and the outskirts of Bengaluru, where mangoes are grown on a large scale - damaged the flowering and fruiting. The rainfall between September and November last year had already increased moisture in the air, setting off the delay in mango farming.

C G Nagaraj, Managing Director, Karnataka State Mango Development and Marketing Corporation Limited, said the dry and hot weather was essential for the fruit.

Ramanganaram, with its unique climate suitable for mangoes, also saw a delay. The flowering usually happens in the district in December, but it was pushed to January. Other mango-growing areas saw the flowering only in February or March, as against January, horticulture expert V S Hittalamani said.

According to him, it's a matter of concern that most mango trees have produced restive flesh (fresh leaves instead of flowers) for the first time.

To increase the crop yield and ensure early ripening, farmers have increased the use of ethylene, a natural plant hormone. Traders are also using the banned calcium carbide to ripen the fruit.

Nagaraj said the drought in Karnataka over the past few years had actually been beneficial for the flowering and ripening of mangoes. That's why mangoes had hit the market in or on time. They were sweeter and bigger, too.

But this time, the quality is likely to be affected. The corporation has sent teams across the state to assess the crop damage.

Last year, Karnataka produced 12 lakh metric tonnes of mangoes and exported 10,000 metric tonnes. It would be creditable if the state could export 3.5-4 lakh metric tonnes this time. The situation is in sharp contrast with export orders that are pouring in from Australia, the US, Europe and West Asia. While Karnataka is unlikely to fulfil all the orders, Maharashtra, with its Alphonso variety, has already captured the export market.

According to growers, since export orders have to be met, the domestic market will see reduced supplies.

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