What was it all about?
This project, which ran from 2013 to 2018, investigated the climatic conditions associated with flowering in mango in the Northern Territory, with a view to developing ways to extend the harvest window for fruit, which currently is only five to seven weeks. An extended harvest period would improve harvest and packaging efficiencies, boost overall profitability, and better allow the development of an export industry.
Current treatments to manipulate the harvest window, including gibberellic acid inhibitors to inhibit vegetative growth and others to stimulate flower production, are not well evaluated. The research team set up glasshouse and field experiments and assessed climatic factors including heat units and agronomic practices to provide a better understanding of mango flowering. Results from all sectors of the project were then integrated into commercial trials to evaluate the combined effect of management options and flowering time.
The project very precisely described the temperature requirements for flowering of mango cultivars in the Northern Territory, finding that cooler night-time temperatures are critical. Working with the Bureau of Meteorology, the particular weather systems that bring cooler nights were identified.
Importantly, differences were found between cultivars in their responses, which will allow future screening of cultivars for suitability. The ability of chemical treatments to modify these genetic tendencies needs further evaluation.
Meanwhile, the effects of chemical applications were found to vary considerably depending on temperature and other factors such as pH and night or day application.
The research advanced the understanding of mango flowering considerably, with more research needed to develop particular recommendations for growers.