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A forum for growing rare fruits, edibles and Permaculture with a focus on tropicals.

NorCal mango experiment

Postby joehewitt » Thu May 19, 2016 12:02 pm

joehewitt
 
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Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2015 8:54 pm
Climate Zone: USDA 9b, Sunset 16
I'm always wanted to try mangos here in Los Gatos (zone 9b) but it seemed like a fool's errand. Well, I finally got over it and decided to just do it anyway. I'm willing to lose my investment, but it will be fun even if the trees don't live very long.

Here's how I planted them:

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There are 6 trees planted on a circular mound, about 3 feet apart. Yes, I know, they're very close together, which just means I will have a lot of pruning work to do. Mango trees get enormous, but in the unlikely event these reach their size potential, that will be a very nice problem to have! In the mean time, being close together will hopefully help them to protect each other from cold.

The 2 smaller trees are from Tim Thompson (Antonio and Tequila Sunrise). The 4 larger ones are from a guy in SoCal who developed his own hybrids (all I know is one is Coconut Cream x Lemon Zest). They have been in pots for 10-15 years and are 8-12 feet tall. I am hoping their size and age will make them much more resistant to cold. They are a little lanky so I tied them to stakes for wind protection.

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I hired some guys and a jackhammer to dig a 2 foot ditch, mix the native soil with 50% compost, and then make a 1 foot tall mound. The entire pit is lined with gopher wire. I'm hoping that being surrounded by nicely aerated soil will help them hit the ground running. They'll be drip irrigated and covered with a thick layer of wood chips very soon. I'll start fertilizing them soon, but stop in late summer to avoid tender growth in winter.

I'm preparing for winter now. The mound should help move cold air away from the trees and improve drainage. In late November I am going to tent the entire thing, cover it with Agribon 30, and put C7 christmas lights on the trees. I'll also remove the mulch to expose the ground and help it warm up faster.

I should note that the mangos are right next to a Macadamia, Guatemalan Avocado, and Bananas, none of which have ever been seriously damaged through 3 winters.

If this experiment fails, it won't because I didn't try hard enough! I'll post updates here over time.

Re: NorCal mango experiment

Postby Ben » Thu May 19, 2016 12:32 pm

Ben
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Location: 39.5S, 177E
Climate Zone: NZ Z10
Hey Steve, great job! And they say we in the Southern Hemisphere are 'down under', but your pictures prove otherwise!

I hate to suggest problems, but I have been growing bananas here for 25 years but still never managed to get a mango to produce, so the climate indicator plants may not be valid. But the experiment with the new cool tolerant cv.s is exactly what is needed for the fruit growing community. Best of luck and put me down for seeds from your first few crops!

Re: NorCal mango experiment

Postby James (Fremont,CA) » Sat May 21, 2016 9:38 pm

James (Fremont,CA)
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Very cool. I am also embarking down the mango rabbit hole after seeing a fruiting Mango here in Fremont. I'm not quite sure it will work where I am as I am bit closer to bay than the fruiting tree, the heat levels here change freakishly fast as you go up the hills. I am trying a different strategy, planting it my court yard up against a stucco wall with a Southern exposure. Generally significantly hotter than the rest of the property (protected from the bay breeze as well) . Trying to reproduce the conditions with the example tree.
I would agree with Ben about the climate indicating plants, avocados/macadamias are pretty tough trees, the lowest temps I have had here are around 27-28, never any damage on them (beaumont, wurtz, bacon, zutano)
Last year I planted a bunch of tomatoes around the property trying to figure out how to over winter them (I prefer starting tomatoes from cuttings rather than seed), I had 3 out of 10 locations survive (just for reference these were all cuttings from the same parent) -- so no genetic variation :D Tomatoes next to the bananas/macadamias all torched with the cold, no damage on either mac or banana. Would actually use a simple tomato as a better reference. Also, keep in mind not all of the surviving plants were in good locations for summer heat -- it seems like you need both to fruit Mangos successfully without a overhead protection.

Good luck and would love to compare notes next spring :)

Re: NorCal mango experiment

Postby joehewitt » Sun May 22, 2016 4:40 pm

joehewitt
 
Posts: 24
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2015 8:54 pm
Climate Zone: USDA 9b, Sunset 16
I emphasized Guatemalan avocado (Hass) since they are less hardy than Bacon, Zutano, and the Mexican avocados. I was just at a CRFG meeting where a speaker in south San Jose discussed her inability to keep Hass alive through winter, but my Hass tree has never been injured by cold. Obviously Hass is still far hardier than any mango, but it's a relative indicator.

I've grown tomatoes in the same spot as the mangos, and they've never made it through winter. I have, however, overwintered other solanaceae (cape gooseberry and litchi tomato) in that spot.

I would think that a 12 year old mango tree with a 3 inch caliper trunk is much hardier than a succulent young tomato vine, but I do understand why you would use it for comparison. If a tomato could survive, a mango definitely would, but then I wouldn't go through the trouble to cover and heat my tomatoes as I'm preparing to do with these mango trees.

Re: NorCal mango experiment

Postby Axel » Sun May 22, 2016 6:40 pm

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Location: Hanalei Bay, HI & Fallbrook, CA
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As you guys embark in mango experiments (which are needed so people can learn how mangoes grow in Norcal) keep in mind that the success you saw in Fremont is going to be a one off from a timing perspective. Since about 2012, water temps off the Norcal coast have been anomalously high. Unfortunately, as this El Nino exits and is replaced by a record cold La Nina event, those warm water temperatures are history. From 2012 through about 2015, Northern California has been experiencing Southern California-like conditions - drier Winters, and much warmer, more humid Summers with warmer night time temperatures. Those are now gone, and will be replaced by the usual chilly nights and associated lower dewpoints.

The coastal basin in Southern California has always been hit and miss for mangoes. Some years there are bumper crops. Other years the crop is a failure. And the off-years are warmer than the good years in Northern California. So you can imagine the challenge the upcoming La Nina will throw at mangoes North of Point Conception.

Even in Southern California, the last few years have gotten people some limited success with crops that would normally barely work here. A case in point is jack fruit. Jack fruit is borderline here, yet the last three years folks have managed to ripen edible fruit.

The current weather pattern is a classic post El Nino pattern: a longwave trough is permanently anchored off the West Coast bringing a rather cool and persistent marine layer to the entire State. In Southern California, we're seeing January-like temperatures in May, with some Mornings as cold as 53F, and not much above 75F as far as highs are concerned. The NWS is forecasting a hot Summer for the West, but I have a hard time believing that forecast.

I am not trying to discourage anyone from trying mangoes, especially the new mangoes bred for California, I am merely recommending tempering expectations a bit so that the results don't disappoint anyone.
Tropical gardening in both Kaua'i windward Sunset H2/USDA 12b and Fallbrook Sunset 23/USDA 10b.

Re: NorCal mango experiment

Postby James (Fremont,CA) » Sun May 22, 2016 7:03 pm

James (Fremont,CA)
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Axel,
I am fully expecting failure, if it wasn't impossible where would the fun be? :lol: See what works, doesn't and try it again until it does, you never know what trick will make something work.

James

Re: NorCal mango experiment

Postby joehewitt » Sun May 22, 2016 7:33 pm

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Posts: 24
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2015 8:54 pm
Climate Zone: USDA 9b, Sunset 16
Part of the fun is just getting to know these "exotic" plants. I remember how excited I was the first time I walked under a mango tree in Hawaii. Now I get to live with some for at least the next 7 months. Same for all my other soon-to-be-doomed tropical trees.

Next time I am in Hawaii, I will be able to spot a Cinnamon tree or a Grumichama tree out of the corner of my eye. I might even be able to give advice to people growing these trees in appropriate climates. Even if my trees die, it will have been worth the time and money just for that.

Re: NorCal mango experiment

Postby Axel » Sun May 22, 2016 7:41 pm

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Location: Hanalei Bay, HI & Fallbrook, CA
Climate Zone: 12b/H2 & 10b/S23
By all means, I don't want to discourage anyone. Even in Southern California I try the things that are known to fail just to get the experience. I've tried coconut, both plants died last January I am growing jackfruit, which will grow into a nice large tree and bear big fat fruit that will be mostly bland because they won't ripen in time before the onset of cold Winter weather.

You guys are all trying stuff that is a tough grow even in Southern California. Mangoes are not at all easy down here. It just helps to know your limiting factors, then you can play around to fine tune things to maximize chances of success.
Tropical gardening in both Kaua'i windward Sunset H2/USDA 12b and Fallbrook Sunset 23/USDA 10b.

Re: NorCal mango experiment

Postby RobertS » Fri May 27, 2016 8:04 am

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Joe & James, i wish both of you great success in your mango growing adventure, your braver than me I have a tequila sunrise in my green house and I'm waffling on planting it outside this year it's only about 3" tall and leaning on keeping in g.h. one more year before planting outside. I did graft a pc. of T.S. on a seedling mango i had as back up. keep us post on your zone pushing adventure! ;) 8-)

Re: NorCal mango experiment

Postby James (Fremont,CA) » Tue May 31, 2016 3:54 pm

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Will send the fatality pictures in about 8 months. :lol:

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