PUNE: The much-loved Alphonso mangoes are likely to hit the markets late — by almost a month — this year. Proper supply of the mangoes is expected only after mid-March.
In the period before that, the supplies are likely to be 40% less than normal. Experts are blaming "significant fruit droppings" from the mango trees in the Konkan region, "delayed flowering" and even infestation for the later arrival of the fruit.
Due to a late rain spell in October 2017, the mango trees went through a phase of vegetative grown in October and November, said Vidyadhar Joshi, the director of the Devgad Taluka Mango Growers Cooperative Society Ltd. "The rains led to high humidity and moisture, which caused more vegetative growth. The new leaves took time to mature — around two to two-and-a-half-months — and only then the flowering could begin. Therefore, this year, the bulk of the Alphonso mangoes will hit the market only by mid-March and April. February may see just about 5% of the produce entering the retail market," he said.
Joshi said the reduced production in the first part of the traditional Alphonso season is also because flowering took places alongside the mango fruitlets this year. "When there is flowering on a mango tree that also has fruitlets, the nutrients get distributed between the two. As a result, the fruitlets do not get adequate nutrition and ultimately drop off. This phenomenon has resulted in 50% fruit droppings," he said.
Vivek Bhide, president of the Konkan Mango Growers' and Sellers Association, said the three-four warm days after January 14 caused an infestation on the fruitlets. "After January 17, the temperature dropped again and this led to re-flowering of the mango trees. The reflowering also caused the earlier fruitlets to drop off. A 30% dip in produce hitting the market in the initial mango season is expected," said Bhide.
Mandar Desai, who owns a 700-acre plantation in Ratnagiri, said, "The flowers in the first stage were less due to the untimely rain. Proper supplies will start after March 15, once the second batch of fruits matures."