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Protect Mango Orchards from Frost Damage in winters

Pakistan ranks fourth in the world for the production of the king of fruits (Mango). MANGO tree can best grow in subtropical and tropical climates and is one of the most cold sensitive fruit plant. Temperature below 30 degree Fahrenheit results in serious damage to the leaves and twigs .As lower temperatures can cause more damage to the mango tree than high temperatures.

In frost damage ice forms inside the plant tissue and thus plant cells injures. Freeze damage when combined with cold winds becomes more extensive. Every year mango orchards in Pakistan severe cold with frost and freeze damages are witnessed. This year again mango growers are afraid due to the harsh conditions of weather that is affecting growth of the mango fruit reducing its production. Unfortunately, mango is an important exportable commodity and due to this problem the economic life of groves, its productivity, yield and quality is gradually declining.

Older mango trees are more resistance to cold than young trees. That’s the reason young mango orchards are suffering from severe damages due to cold condition in mango zone that includes Multan, Shujaabad, Bahawalpur and other mango-growing areas of Sindh.

The reasons why older trees are saved from frost injuries are the mechanical factors that include bark thickness, furnishing an insulating coat over the susceptible cambium tissues. Young plants that are less than five years of age are more damaged throughout the mango region of Punjab and Sindh this year. 50-70 per cent tree losses occur in this age group. Plants that are five to ten year in age have sustained branch damage of two to six feet. Trees of this age group are also showing galls on trunks where damage is happening on bark.

Damage occurring in orchards includes: dieback of trees, frost damage to tender shoots and death of dormant flower buds. Many orchards have curled and drying with small cracks. Dead patches can be seen on bark numerous locations on trunk and limbs. In young mango orchards leaves are rapidly shedding and twigs have been damaged severely.

Many times researchers have declared that trees loosing leaves rapidly indicate a good sign and are not at risk, as that is what generally believed by growers. Extremely frozen leaves collapse, dry out, and remain on the tree.

Sometimes frost damage is simply unavoidable. Now the question is what should be done, when this damage has occurred? The only management after a freeze is to whitewash the tree to delay pruning of frozen and damaged branches until spring or summer to help evaluation of the damage more accurately, and to stop premature tender growth during the cold season.

More the pruning is done, more energy the plant expends to heal the wound, thus falling short of energy needed for new growth and flowering. Application of fertilizer should be delayed until new growth occurs in the spring and the amount should be adjusted according to the extent of damage the tree has suffered. If the tree has lost a quarter of its branches to the freeze, quarter less fertilizer should be applied; if the tree has lost half of its limbs, half less should be used.

The amount of fertilizer should be slightly increased, if the damage is confined to leaves, and the twigs and branches have survived. Heavy dose of fertilizer must be avoided. High-nitrogen fertilizers should be avoided as plants in that case make lots of sappy leafy growth that is particularly susceptible to damage, particularly early and late in the year.

Application of a thick mulch helps protect plant roots. The mulch must be removed in spring time when temperature increases. Mango trees should be irrigated once a week in fall and it should be continued to keep the tree healthy and vigorous throughout the winter. Low temperatures can cause a tree to dehydrate quickly, making frost damage more severe.

These problems are caused mostly due to unawareness about freeze hazards, inefficient use of resources and quality maintenance practices and non-availability of nutrients in the soil. Still, the farmers are unable to cope with the problems due to their ignorance and lack of information involving production management. So, Jazz Bakhabar Kissan has now taken this responsibility to educate farmers to save the farmers from loss and ensure both qualitative and quantitative production of mango. Call on our Helpline number: 03030300000 and install Jazz Bakhabar Kissan mobile application.

About Sadia Noorin

Msc(Hons.) Plant Pathology, ARID AGRICULTURE UNIVERSITY RAWALPINDI

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