Mangos are tropical fruits that grow in warm climates. Mature mango trees can live for years, and although buds from one tree can attach themselves to another, grafting -- fusing tissues of separate plants or species to create a new one -- is also a method of propagation. Grafting occurs naturally when two plants rub against each other or grow together. However, commercial mango producers and hobbyists can graft plant material from separate healthy mango trees to encourage the perfect match.
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Splice and Whip Grafting
Splice grafting and "whip and tongue" are common methods used on small, young plants. To "knit" the two pieces together, both the scion and rootstock must have the same diameter. Cut through the rootstock (main plant stalk) using a sharp knife, and then slice the scion at an equal angle below a bud so that the two pieces "fit" together. Mature mango trees can be grafted in the bark where several scions can be attached in the same area. Secure the pieces together with waxed yarn and then wrap a watered plastic bag tightly around the area. Grafting is best done during the dormant season; winter to early spring.
Cleft grafting is another form of uniting fruit tree specimens together, either on main stems or offshoots. Trim two 6-inch pieces of scions so that they fit into a 1/4-inch opening in the rootstock, the main plant. Use a clefting wedge tool and mallet to drill into the centre of the rootstock; remove the wedge and use a pick tool to insert the scions at each end of the opening. Each scion should have four good buds; make tapered cuts along the sides. Position the sections so that the cambium of both the scion and rootstock make direct contact. Close the rootstock over the scions and secure it with grafting wax or paint. Cleft grafting works best during the dormant season.
Bark grafting is similar to cleft grafting but it is done on wider rootstocks (4 to 12 inches in diameter). Bark grafting is best done in the early spring; the sap flows and the bark separates more easily from the wood. Cut vertical slits through the bark and insert one scion every 3 inches around the rootstock's perimeter. Nail the scions to the rootstock underneath the bark. Seal the exposed wood with grafting wax or paint. When the various scions begin to grow, keep the strongest ones and clip the others. Young mango trees created by way of bark grafting may need to be staked for a few years.
Other Grafting Processes
Other ways of grafting two plants together are suitable for mango trees. Side-veneer grafting on potted rootstock is a popular method for commercial nurseries. Rootstocks are left outside during cold winter months and then brought into greenhouses where the plants are spliced together. The scion is sliced and then secured against the rootstock, tied together and sealed with grafting wax. Saddle grafting is done in mid- to late winter using equally sized rootstocks and scions. The top of the rootstock is shaped so that the scion can fit right over it.
Mango trees can produce fruit without cross-pollinating with another tree. They must live in tropical climates such as those in Florida and California; mango trees can go dormant at 4.44 degrees C and die or be severely damaged if the temperature dips below freezing at 0 degrees C. Mango fruits grow at the end of long stems, are ovate or pear-shaped and can weigh 227 to 680gr. Ripe mangos have smooth skin and tangy, juicy flesh that resembles the taste of peaches. Mangos can differ in taste depending on the seeds from which they are produced and the result of tree grafting.
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- California Rare Fruit Growers: Mango
- Purdue University Center for New Crops & Plants Products: Mango
- Colorfield Farms, Inc.: Mango Trees
- West Virginia University Extension Service: Whip Grafting; John W. Jett, 1997
- Texas Agricultural Extension Service; Whip Grafting; Bluefford G. Hancock et al.
- North Carolina State University: Grafting