The Apple mango variety is the most popular and widely grown mango variety in Kenya. It is known for its sweet, juicy flesh and its smooth, thin skin. Apple mangoes are also relatively large and have a small seed, making them ideal for eating fresh or processing.

Apple Mango Variety Farming In Kenya

Kenya’s ideal climate provides an excellent environment for mango cultivation. The country’s mangoes are primarily grown in regions such as Thika, Meru, Murang’a, Eastern regions and parts of Rift Valley. Mangoes are not only a staple in Kenyan households but also contribute significantly to the country’s agriculture sector.

Origin and Characteristics

The Apple mango variety is thought to have originated in the Malindi area of the Kenyan coast. It is a chance seedling, meaning that its parentage is unknown. Apple mangoes are medium to large in size, with an average weight of 397 grams. They have a nearly round shape and a smooth, thin skin that is yellow/orange to red in color when ripe. The flesh of Apple mangoes is juicy and yellow, with a melting texture and virtually no fiber. Apple mangoes are not polyembryonic, meaning that trees propagated by seed will produce fruit that varies in shape, color, and quality.

The trees of apple mango are large/vigorous and of pyriform growth habit. Depending on location, harvesting seasons are from December to the beginning of March; the yields are medium.

Apple Mango Growing Conditions In Kenya

Apple mangoes are grown in a variety of climatic conditions in Kenya, but they thrive in warm, dry climates. They require full sun and well-drained soil. Apple mango trees are relatively large and can grow up to 30 meters tall. They are also susceptible to a number of pests and diseases, including mango weevils, anthracnose, and powdery mildew.

Seedlings

Apple mango seedlings can be purchased at Farmers Trend nurseries via 0724559286 or 0790509684 with nurseries in Muranga and Nairobi.

Climate

Apple mangoes thrive in warm, dry climates. They require full sun and average temperatures of between 24-30 degrees Celsius during the day and 15-20 degrees Celsius at night. Apple mangoes can tolerate temperatures up to 40 degrees Celsius, but they will not produce fruit under these conditions.

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Rainfall

Apple mangoes require moderate rainfall, between 750-1250 mm per annum. The rainfall should be well-distributed throughout the year, with a dry season during the flowering and fruiting period. High humidity levels can lead to fungal diseases, so it is important to ensure proper air circulation.

Soil

Apple mangoes grow best in well-drained, loamy soils with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.5. Heavy clay soils or sandy soils with low organic matter content are not suitable for growing Apple mangoes.

Planting

Apple mango trees can be planted from seeds or grafted plants. Grafted plants are usually preferred as they have a higher yield and produce fruits faster. Apple mango trees are typically planted in the rainy season, between April and June.

Spacing

Apple mango trees require a lot of space to grow, so it is important to plant them at a wide spacing. The recommended spacing for Apple mango trees is 5-5 meters though a bigger spacing is better.

Watering

Apple mango trees require regular watering, especially during the first few years after planting. Once the trees are established, they can be watered deeply every 7-10 days.

Fertilizer

Apple mango trees require regular fertilization to produce good yields. A balanced fertilizer, such as NPK 16:16:16, should be applied every 3-4 months.

Pests and Diseases

Apple mango trees are susceptible to a number of pests and diseases, including mango weevils, anthracnose, and powdery mildew. It is important to regularly inspect the trees for pests and diseases and to take appropriate control measures if necessary.

Harvesting

Apple mangoes are typically harvested from December to February. They are harvested when they are ripe and have a firm texture. Ripe Apple mangoes can be stored for up to two weeks at room temperature or up to four weeks in the refrigerator.

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Success Story: Teresia Wambua’s apple mango farm in Makueni

Teresia Wambua and her husband, Francis Mutuva at their farm in Makueni County. The farm hosts 300 mango trees.
Mrs Teresia Wambua from Tawa in Makueni county with her husban Francis Mutuva at her farm. Photo | Richard Maosi

Teresia Wambua’s apple mango farm in Kithuiya village, a kilometre from Tawa market in Makueni County.

Sitting on an acre, the farm hosts 300 mango trees owned by Teresia and her husband, Francis Mutuva.

Teresia, who runs the farm, says they began mango farming in 2003 by growing the local varieties, before they started grafting with the apple variety.

“We found out that apple mangoes are sweeter and are loved by consumers and that is why we went for them. The mangoes have a diameter of about 10cm. These fruits are heavier and weigh between 200 and 500 grammes,” she offers.

Their purple colour appeals to consumers, according to Teresia, while the pulp is firmly attached to the fruit and has uniform yellow flesh.

Uses animal manure

“A retired chief introduced the hybrid apple mangoes in this region. He was the first to grow them and we saw they are well-adapted to the dry conditions of this area. Thus, the rest of us joined him by grafting our local varieties with scions from his trees,” she recalls, noting she invested Sh5,000 in getting the apple-mango scions.

To plant the mango trees, she uses animal manure, at least 5kg for each and continues to apply regularly as the tree grows.

Foliar fertilisers rich in potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus are then applied to enhance flowering and fruiting.

“Pruning should also be done between February and March every year to reduce branches and do away with those that may be infested with pests and diseases,” explains Teresia, whose trees are now mature.

Apple mangoes take three years to fully mature, unlike traditional varieties that take six.

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“Flowering takes place between May and June and then the fruits begin to sprout at around November. In most cases, we harvest between January and February. The farmer can continue to harvest for 50 years, if the apple mango trees are well taken care of,” says Mutuva.

Use pheromone traps

They harvest once a year, getting 250-300 fruits from a single tree and sell each at Sh10 at the local market and Sh25 outside Makueni County.

“Some brokers normally buy from us and export the produce to India and China at a much higher price,” he says, noting they have used money from the fruits to comfortably educate their children.

Heavy rains that cause water-logging on the farm leading to diseases and fruit flies, which they use pheromone traps to eradicate, are some of the challenges they contend with.

Dennis Nyandaya, an agronomist and agricultural expert with Elim Agro Info, in Kibwezi, Makueni County, says a farmer should be aware of the kind of seeds to use and when grafting.  This ensures that the mango tree continues to give viable flowers and fruits.

“During the early stages of development, it is important to use manure first before one starts to apply fertilisers that are rich in potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus to promote foliage and flower production. This takes place as the tree advances towards maturity,” he says

The flavour of the fruit depends on soil pH and fertiliser applied, he says.

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