The mango tree is a fruit tree that has its origin in the tropical areas of Asia. It is the national fruit in India, but it is currently cultivated in many countries of the world, with the tropical countries of Latin America being the largest producers. They do not withstand the cold, they need warm, humid environments and with soils with good drainage capacity. In this post we will study in depth everything related to pruning the mango tree, how and when to prune, what tools to use and more.
Some consider the mango as the most popular fruit in the world, I cannot assure it but that it is very widespread there is no doubt. According to studies from 5000 years ago, mangoes were already cultivated in India. And it wasn’t until 300 or 400 AD. that were introduced in the Middle East and East Africa. Also according to legends, the Buddha himself meditated under the shade of a mango tree. The importance and rich history of this fruit tree forces me to give it a good place in this blog, so we will dedicate an extensive article to comment on it.
In general, we start each article on this blog by giving some advice on how to care for the plant in question. But since we have a lot of information to give, and since we do not want to extend the publication too much (tiring the reader), we will skip the care. In other words, we will jump right into the main topic of the article, pruning a mango tree.
Table of Contents
1. Tools for Pruning mango tree
Let’s start by talking about the tools you will need if you intend to prune a mango tree. These will vary throughout the life of this fruit tree, the larger the plant you will need a few extra tools for the task.
In general we can summarize them in the following list:
- Manual pruning scissors: these will be useful to cut branches of little thickness, when the plant is small you can carry out all the pruning with this type of scissors.
- Lopping shears: you will need them when your handle has developed branches of greater height and thickness (about 5 cm). You can find two types; cross cut with curved blade or anvil type cutter. The latter can cut thicker branches.
- Pruning saw: If what you need is to cut branches of 15 cm or more, the best option is to opt for a saw. With this, the cut will not be as clean as with scissors, but it will allow you to cut it without problems. It also allows cutting branches in awkward situations, such as a narrow fork.
1.1 How to care for and disinfect your tools
Not only is it important to know what tools you need, but you should also know how to care for and disinfect them. The care will allow you to extend the useful life of any tool. While disinfection will avoid possible contagion between one plant and another in case of diseases or pests.
Among the most important cares we can mention the following:
- Use the right tool for each job. Do not use a tool that is not designed for the task at hand.
- Regularly carry out deep cleaning and greasing.
- Periodically sharpen the cutting blades. Pruning with poorly sharp tools produces messy cuts that damage the plant.
- If you have a wooden handle, try varnishing them to prevent cracking or chipping.
Knowing what the cares are, let’s now see three methods to perform the disinfection correctly:
- Method 1: Rub the scissors blades with a cloth moistened with alcohol (ethanol). After cleaning, allow the tool to sit for a couple of minutes for maximum disinfection efficiency.
- Method 2: prepare a mixture 1/9 of chlorine and water (one part of chlorine and 9 of water). Then soak the scissors for half an hour in that mixture. After those 30 minutes you can start pruning.
- Method 3: this third method is effective but from my point of view it is not so recommended. Here what you should do is pass the blade for a few seconds through a flame. This will disinfect but also burn the blade.
2. When to prune mango tree
The right time to prune a mango tree varies depending on the type of pruning we are doing. We can quickly summarize it in the following:
- Formation pruning: formation pruning will always be done during the spring.
- Production pruning: the prunings that are carried out on adult trees to improve their production are carried out once the harvest is finished.
- Cleaning pruning: any time is a good time to remove a dead, diseased or infested branch. The sooner you cut them, the better.
As you can see, there is not only an ideal season for pruning, you must first be clear about what type of pruning your mango needs.
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3. Pruning Mango tree
Depending on the type of tree in question, pruning has a different purpose. For example, the pruning that we carry out on a garden plant such as azalea is not the same as that that we will carry out on a citrus tree such as lemon.
In the case of the mango tree, what we are looking for when pruning is the following:
- Balance the structure of the tree.
- Facilitate the management of thinning, phytosanitary applications and harvest.
- Balance between vegetative and reproductive growth.
- Facilitate the entry of light and air into the interior of the glass.
- Reduce favorable conditions for the incidence of pests and diseases.
- Form a more productive tree.
- Produce higher quality fruit.
We will see as our mango tree grows it will need a different pruning. We can quickly divide it into two very different stages, the juvenile and the adult or productive. In each of these stages, pruning has very different objectives, times and methodologies. That is why we will analyze them separately in the following sections.
4. How to prune young mango tree
The training pruning is carried out in the first 3 years and its objective is to generate a structure of strong and equidistant branches. In this way the fruits and the harvest are better distributed avoiding the breakage of the branches due to excessive weight.
The training pruning is carried out in the first 3 years and its objective is to generate a structure of strong and equidistant branches
The most suitable planting season for mango is spring, moving away from the period of late frosts (August) and with the first rains.
Once the seedling is established in the field, a period of 1 – 2 months is expected, observing the sprouting and it is at that time that the first pruning is done. In some cases this first pruning is already done in the nursery.
4.1 First formation pruning
Before explaining how to perform the first formation pruning, it is important that you understand what intercalation is in a mango plant. Shoot growth occurs between alternate periods of growth and dormancy, the stages of development are known as intercalation unit while the dormant period is known as intercalation. It will be clearer by looking at the following picture.
The first pruning of a mango plant should be done by cutting the seedling between 80 cm and 1 m high measured from the ground. This cut, which must be made in a chamfer, can be made above or below the intercalation. Making one or the other decision has its advantages and disadvantages.
If you make the cut just above the intercalation, a lot of sprouts will be generated at that point. This has the advantage that it will be easy to select the primary branches that will give structure to the plant of that family. The negative is that when all the primary branches leave the same point, the insertion point to the main stem is weak, since all the branches exert pressure on that point.
On the other hand, if we cut just below the intercalation, new shoots will be generated at different levels. From these shoots we can select the main branches, having the advantage that each one is in a different plane without exerting excessive pressure on the stem. From here we recommend this practice, cutting just below the intercalation.
4.2 Second formation pruning
This pruning of mango formation is the one that we will carry out during the second spring after planting. Here what we will do is prune the 3 or 4 primary branches that we have selected. The same ones for this height will have already been developed with a length of 60 and 100 cm.
Here what we will do is cut all the primary branches, at a distance of between 60 cm and 80 cm. What this cut will do is that more buds will be generated during the season. We will select 2 or 3 of them to form a structure of secondary branches.
4.3 Third formation pruning
How can you imagine what we will do at this point is to prune the secondary branches during the third spring. The secondary branches will have a length between 60 cm and 100 cm. Here we will repeat the procedure from the previous spring but with the tertiary branches.
New shoots will be generated from the cut branches. From each one we will select 2-3, thus configuring a level of tertiary branches. With this we already have a good structure, capable of supporting a good load of fruits. From now on what we will do is a pruning that favors the emission of vegetative and floriferous shoots.
5. Mango tree production phase
After the formation pruning and reaching the fourth year of life of our mango, we will begin to carry out prunings that regularize and improve productive efficiency. Up to this stage we can have carried out the pruning tasks with a simple hand pruning shears, from here on other tools such as saws or lopping shears will be useful. These pruning tasks are generally performed after the harvest is finished.
5.1 Production and maintenance pruning
This pruning is very simple to carry out, although there are some keys if you want to optimize the next harvest. What we will do is cut the branches that have been harvested, thus allowing the stimulation of new shoots, which will be in charge of producing the new fruits for the next season.
The cuts that we will make should never exceed the height of the third intercalation unit, with a maximum diameter of branches of 2 to 2.5 cm. If we cut many thicker branches, what we will cause is an excess of vegetative sprouting, having a decrease in the amount of mangoes to be harvested.
5.2 Crown thinning pruning
This is a pruning that should only be done in those fruit trees that have a dense crown. This density of branches makes it difficult for light and air to enter, leaving many fruits with incorrect ripening.
What we will do is cut interior branches to allow the best entry of light and air. We will also take advantage of it to eliminate the branches that grow very low, thus preventing the fruits from rubbing the ground, something that does not look good and lowers its price in the market.
This better circulation of air and light within the cup not only has benefits in production. It also improves the general health of the plant, reducing the appearance of certain diseases and pests.
5.3 Cleaning pruning
This pruning is common in any plant, regardless of whether it is a fruit tree, a flower, a shrub, etc. What we seek with this pruning is to improve the health of the plant, also trying to prevent the spread of diseases.
We will cut all those branches that show signs of disease, are broken, dry or are attacked by any type of plague. This type of pruning can be done at any time of the year. As we like to say on this blog, it is always a good time to do a cleaning pruning.
As we like to say on this blog, it is always a good time to do a cleaning pruning.
The most common disease in mango plants, which we seek to control with cleaning pruning, is known as “witch’s broom.” In this disease certain mites and a fungus act. The mites function as a vector for this fungus, which brings many problems. If you don’t control it, your mango production will suffer greatly.
It should be noted that cleaning pruning is not enough when the attack is important. It must be accompanied by the application of an effective fungicide for these fungi.
After cleaning pruning is done, the task is not over. Care must be taken to properly remove pruning debris. Don’t leave them near other plants or you will be spreading the disease. And far from solving the problem you will enlarge it.
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6. Pruning overgrown mango tree (rejuvenating)
When a mango plant has not been pruned for a long time and / or the plant is already somewhat old, it becomes so large that it makes maintenance and harvest difficult. This is the moment in which what we must do is a rejuvenation pruning, which is nothing more than a very strong pruning.
Depending on the need, it may be necessary to cut all the main branches, regardless of their thickness. They should be cut quite low (height of a person’s chest). If you cut the main branches too high, and since they are already quite far apart, the new canopy that will be generated will never be filled.
So remember, in severe pruning you must leave the tree low, then with the new shoots generated you will be in charge of selecting the new main branches. Also try that the cuts in the branches are as vertical as possible, preventing water from accumulating and entering any disease.
Once the cuts have been made, they should be covered with white water paint or lime (calcium hydroxide solution). This prevents a rise in temperature in the logs, which are not acclimated to direct sunlight. If the cuts are not covered, the sides of the logs that receive direct sun can die. If you want, you can add copper hydroxide to the paint before applying it. This helps reduce infections caused by spoilage organisms.
7. Pruning young mango tree (video)
To finish this post, we have selected a video (Garden, Places, Health channel) in which you can review some tips on pruning young mango specimens. I hope you find it useful. 😉
More information – Growing mango tree: