Grower resources to support change to high density systems

There are now numerous resources available to help support mango growers wishing to transition to intensive management practices.

These have been developed through the three-year ‘Transforming Mango Futures Project’, funded by the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA), and led by DAF with partners Manbulloo Ltd, Marto’s Mangoes and the Australian Mango Industry Association (AMIA). Outcomes of this project will help transform the productivity and profitability of the Australian Mango Industry through research, development, and extension of next–generation, economically-proven, innovative mango production systems.

Three demonstration trials were established on commercial mango orchards in Bowen, Mutchilba (Mareeba), and Katherine as key outcomes of the project. Each demonstration site of high-density plantings included both trellised and non-trellised designs and were evaluated with the growers’ main varieties (KP and/or R2E2) and a few of the new NMBP mango varieties (1243 and 4069). At this time, numerous trees had reached the second wire in the trellis systems and there was good branching in the conventionally managed systems. This is despite a few setbacks to the establishment of the demonstration blocks, including two ‘one in 100-year’ frost events that occurred back-to-back in Mutchilba.

Overall, the project has produced many resources to support the mango industry in adopting intensified planting systems; an entertaining, short video summarising these activities and outputs from the project is available on the Queensland Agriculture YouTube channel.

More specific details about individual resources are included below.

Three videos were produced which cover the key concepts and skills required to manage high density mango systems:

  1. High-density mango intensification: the basics
  2. High-density mango orchards: espalier trellis
  3. High-density mango orchards: slim hedges.

These videos are available on the Queensland Agriculture YouTube channel and can also be accessed through the CRCNA webpage and the Australian Mangoes Best Practice Resource Library.

A report; ‘An economic case study of intensive mango systems’ was produced to assist stakeholders in assessing the economic costs and benefits of adopting higher planting densities.

The manual, ‘Establishment of high-density mango orchards’ (link available on CRCNA website shortly) was also developed to support growers who are considering intensifying or who have established higher density mango orchards.

The manual includes information on both ‘slim-hedge’ and trellised high-density systems.

In addition to the electronic resources developed for the project, (and where COVID-19 restrictions permitted), demonstrations of high-density systems to stakeholders were conducted during annual tours of the three demonstration sites and at the DAF Planting Systems Trial at Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Walkamin Research Facility in Mareeba (Walkamin).

In 2021, thirty growers, researchers and agronomists attended the “High-density Mango Canopy Training Field Day” held at (Walkamin), where training and pruning skills for managing high-density orchards were demonstrated.

Although the project has now concluded, DAF and the original partners will continue to support the development of novel intensification methods. This will be achieved through a new DAF internally-funded project ‘Transforming Orchard Futures’, with informal support from Manbulloo Ltd, Marto’s Mangoes and AMIA, as well as a host of new collaborators including Acacia Hills Farm and NT DITT. New high-density plantings by NT DITT include the Coastal Plains Research Farm, Katherine Research Station, and the Ali Curung Aboriginal Community.

Any commercial growers across Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia that have existing high-density orchards (both trellised and non-trellised)or are planting new high-density blocks, and wish to share their knowledge, or learn from the project are welcome to collaborate during this next phase.

The future for an intensive, more profitable mango industry looks bright thanks to the ‘Transforming Mango Futures Project’.

A huge thanks to the CRCNA and all partners, collaborators and participants that contributed to the success of this project.

Article submitted by Dale Bennett (dale.bennett@daf.qld.gov.au) and Geoff Dickinson (geoff.dickinson@daf.qld.gov.au), Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Mareeba.

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