Harvest practices for mango
Proper picking is a precondition to being successful in the rest of the supply chain. The performance of the pickers is therefore critical to deliver good quality mangos. First of all, picking at the right maturity is important to develop a satisfactory taste. Picking and further handling must be done carefully to avoid bruising and other damages to the product. The use of clean and suitable materials such as harvest crates also serves this purpose.
Harvest of mangos
Mangos are climacteric fruits. This means that, once mature, they will ripen further after harvest. Mangos are often harvested when they are still green and firm, so they can reach distant markets. On the other hand, they must be sufficiently developed to be able to ripen and reach optimum quality later in the supply chain. Determining the right harvest moment is therefore important for the eating quality and marketability of the mangos. Good training, instruction and monitoring of individual pickers can ensure a good starting quality. Another important point of attention for the mango harvest is the latex flow from the stem. If sap from the cut stem comes into contact with the fruit skin, it will result in skin burns. Therefore, the harvesting procedure also includes the so-called de-sapping of the fruit.
Attention points harvesting mango
Ripening stages. Illustration by WUR
Harvest maturityThe harvest stage for mangos depends on the market destination. For long-distance transport, they must be harvested relatively unripe but also in a stage which will ensure proper completion of the ripening process. The internal colour is the most reliable indicator of the ripeness of mangos. The harvest stage for mangos intended for long-distance transport (by truck or reefer) is at a stage where colour develops just near the seed. The harvest stage for mangos intended for air transport or local market is at an advanced colour stages. The optimum color stage may vary depending on the variety, and colour charts for maturity determination are available.
Harvest when fruit temperatures are cool. Photo by WFBR.
Harvest frequencyRegular harvest moments are required to limit variability in individual fruit maturity. Mangos are preferably harvested in the coolest part of the day (in the morning). In this way, the cooler fruit temperatures will facilitate the time to realise the optimal product temperature in the packhouse. Avoid the harvest of wet fruit (due to rain or dew), as surface moisture can enhance disease development.
Careful harvest of mangos. Photo by wk1003mike/Shutterstock.com
Harvest methodRemoving the fruit from the tree by manually breaking the stem is an option: break at 5 cm or more or exactly on the second insertion by making a turn and using the thumb. With this stem length, no latex flow will occur. Another method is the use of clippers and leaving 0.5-1 cm of stem attached to the fruit. In this case latex flow will occur and therefore the mango should be hold stem-end down to avoid sap from dripping onto the skin.
De-sapping of mangos to prevent latex dripping on the skin. Photo by WFBR.
De-sappingDe-sapping, or latex removal, is necessary to prevent latex from mango stems dripping onto the fruit skin. The harvesting procedure may prescribe to hold the fruit stem-end down and subsequently place the fruit stem-end down in de-sapping racks. In the case of fruits with a stem length more than 1.0 cm, these first should be trimmed back to usually 0.5-1 cm. Hold the fruits upside down while trimming the stem because of the latex flow. After approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour, the dripping is usually stopped.
Placing harvested mangos in crates. Photo by Bearfotos/Shutterstock.com
Placing in field cratesPlace the mangos (after de-sapping) carefully in crates. There should be no or only limited dropping distance. Best practice is to lower hands with fruits into the crate. Crates should not be overfilled: when stacking, the crates should not touch the fruit in the crate beneath. The field crates must stay in a shaded covered place until transport to prevent heating.
Mango showing external and internal problems. Photo by Sunet Suesakunkhrit/Shutterstock.com
Diseased and damaged fruitDiseased or damaged fruit should not end up in the crates intended for high-end market segments. Mangos that are suitable for export are at least firm, free from decay and free from damage such as cracks, bruising and insect damage. A preliminary grading could be conducted in the field by placing under-/oversized, under-/overripe and damaged fruit in separate crates.
Work with good, clean and sufficient materials to harvest mangos. Photo by wk1003mike/Shutterstock.com
MaterialsThe availability of good, clean and sufficient materials will facilitate harvest and product quality will benefit. Field crates should be stackable and intact without sharp edges. Tools for high trees are ladders and/or picking poles with clean net (or bag) and sharp knife blade. Clippers should also have sharp blades. De-sapping racks are available in several (portable) types and materials.