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Farm Educational Program and Farm Tour Update for the Mango Loa Project

Introduction

Join us at the next farm educational tour to explore the Mango Loa Project and learn about sustainable farming practices, pest management, and tree maintenance.

Challenges in Mango Cultivation

  • Pest Management: Last year, challenges with mealybugs and scales were noted, impacting the marketability of mango fruits.
  • Canopy Density: Dense canopies might contribute to pest issues. Management strategies including opening up the canopy are being considered.

Pest Control Strategies

  • Use of Sulfur: Sulfur, being affordable and easy to use, is rotated with other fungicides for pest control.
  • Potassium Silicate: Another fungicide, 'Sil Matrix', is used along with MP Reflects in a rotation to manage pests.

Fertilization Practices

  • The focus is on foliar feeding, particularly in the spring. A complete fertilizer with a bit of nitrogen and additional micronutrients is used due to the soil's high alkalinity.
  • Lemon Trees Management: Extra care with micronutrients is necessary for lemon trees to counter the effects of high pH soil.

Canopy Management and Tree Density

  • The goal is to maintain lower tree heights for easier management. While ultra-high density planting was initially pursued, a shift towards regular high-density planting (150-200 trees per acre) is now favored, especially for mango cultivation.

Pruning and Orchard Management

  • A significant pruning is done immediately after harvest, which does not seem to interrupt the normal growth cycle of the trees.

Grafting and Variety Improvement

  • An ongoing project involves grafting different mango varieties to achieve consistent bearing. Techniques like top-working are being employed to graft new varieties onto existing rootstocks.

Trellis System for Mango Trees

  • The trellis system, while beneficial for certain aspects like pest management and fruit quality, poses challenges. It's expensive (around $20,000 per acre) and may not justify the costs in commercial settings.
  • Trellis Design: Importance of correct angle setting for posts to withstand weight and pressure.

Future Plans and Organic Transition

  • The aspiration to transition to organic farming is tempered by practical challenges like manpower and management of cover crops.
  • Cover Cropping: Plans are in place to implement cover cropping, though it requires significant pre-installation preparation and expense.

Water Management and Cover Crops

  • Cover crops have proven difficult to establish due to water management challenges, especially in larger orchards.

Animal Interactions and Orchard Protection

  • Measures to protect orchards from animals like goats, which can damage young trees, are being considered.

Conclusion

The Mango Loa Project is continuously evolving, with a focus on sustainable practices, effective pest management, and canopy control for better fruit production. The educational tours offer a glimpse into these ongoing efforts and the challenges of managing a tropical fruit orchard. Join us on the next farm farm tour.

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