He Harvests From the Same Mango Trees Twice a Year
Normally, mango trees will bear fruit only once a year. But one fellow who grows mangoes in Libungan, North Cotabato, can make two harvests from the same mango trees twice a year. And both harvests are considered off-season so he gets a very good price for his two crops
The fellow is Francisco “Frank” Sacdalan, a retired accountant whose passion these days is farming, particularly mango production. He operates four mango farms with a total area of more than 40 hectares, two of which he owns while two others are leased. Many of the trees are 16 to 20 years old but there are 63 trees that are at least 50 years old. These old trees are really big and very productive because they are adequately fertilized and judiciously pruned.
At the recent National Mango Congress in Tagbilaran City, he detailed how he produced two off-season mango crops in 2007 from the same trees. He revealed that although he had owned the two farms for many years, it was only starting four years ago that he took over the management of the trees. In previous years, a contractor took charge of production under a sharing scheme of the harvests.
How did he manage to produce two off-season crops in one year? First he treated the mango trees with Paclobutrazol in October 2006. This chemical hastens the maturity of the mango leaves so that they can be induced to flower just three to four months from the time of treatment. Normally, he said, you will have to wait for eight months for the new leaves to mature and are ready for flower induction.
The trees treated with Paclobutrazol (brand name is Cultar) were sprayed with flower inducer in February. He harvested the fruits in June which is considered off-season since the main crop in Luzon was already over. Immediately after the June harvest, he induced the trees to flower again. There was no need to apply Cultar again. The crop was harvested in late October, another off-season crop.
Of course, Frank does not induce the trees in the four farms that he operates all at the same time. Harvesting would be problematic because of the huge volume. Some are timed for harvest in February, which is also considered off-season because supply of fruits during this time is still scarce.
He particularly cited one crop from 500 trees that he harvested in February 2008. He harvested 142 tons, about 60 percent of which was export quality. He was able to sell the harvest at a very good price of P31.50 per kilo so that he grossed P4.4 million. He revealed that his cost of production was P1.7 million so that he made a profit of P2.7 million from that one crop.
Of course, not all harvests are that profitable. There was a harvest of 127 tons in September last year from about 200 trees that are 23 years old. One food processor had contracted the harvest for P29 per kilo. Before the fruits were harvestable, however, the buyer had begged off because his buyers from abroad had stopped remitting payments due to the financial meltdown in the United States.
Two other buyers had subsequently offered to buy at P24 per kilo but before harvest time came, they also had to beg off due to lack of funds. He was eventually forced to ship the harvest to Cebu where he got P20 per kilo. Actually, he said, he got a price of only P18 per kilo because the shipping had cost him P2 per kilo. He made only half a million peso profit from that crop which he considered not so profitable because it cost him P1.5 million to produce.
What’s good about Frank is that he is an accountant and he records all his expenses and incomes. That’s why it is very easy for him to know if he is making money or not from his operations.
He observes that it takes good management to make money from mango production. He offers a number of pointers to make mango farming profitable. One is to schedule the harvesting at a time when prices are usually high. One way to do it is to treat the trees with Cultar.
He also recommends that the trees be judiciously pruned. The top of the canopy should be open and the weak branches cut off. Exposure to the sun of the inner branches will result in higher fruit production.
The trees should also be adequately fertilized so that even if they are made to bear two off-season crops in one year, they will be able to sustain their good health. After a double harvest in one year, he rests the trees for another year so that they can recover their strength.
He follows a schedule of spraying his flowers and fruits to protect them from pests and diseases. He bags the fruits when they are 55 days old or about pullet-egg size. That way, he saves money because he does not have to spray pesticide on the bagged fruits. The bagged fruits have a cleaner appearance; hence they usually fetch a better price.
Frank was the most-applauded resource person at the mango convention. lie freely shares his experiences so that other growers may be able to produce profitable mango crops, too.