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Hot spell puts Devgad Alphonso mangoes at risk

PUNE: As the mercury rises, Alphonso growers from the state’s mango-belt Ratnagiri and Devgad are getting increasingly worried. The fluctuating temperatures has led to significant flower dropping from Devgad Alphonso Mango trees over the last few days. Moreover, mature fruits are suffering sun burns.

According to growers, the premature rise in temperature, usually seen in March not February, is likely to reduce Devgad Alphonso Mango production in Maharashtra by at least 20% this season.

Mandar Desai, who owns a 700-acre mango plantation in Ratnagiri, said that increased heat has caused 35% flowers on Devgad Alphonso Mango trees to drop. This, in turn, is likely to affect Alphonso production in April and May. “The sudden rise in temperature over the last couple of days has caused significant flower-drop from trees. These flowers bear the mango fruit. The temperature usually rises after Holi in March. The heat has come over these parts earlier than usual,” said Desai.

Desai added that the high diurnal temperature variation, or difference between day and night temperatures, in the state has also been a cause for concern among growers. “The early morning temperature taken at the farms is around 15 degrees C, while noon temperatures have been above 35 degrees C,” he pointed out.

Devgad-based grower Rajendra Shetty said that the rise and drop in temperature as well as cloudy conditions have led to ‘hopper’ attack on mangoes in the region. “Although, each year, we see a time when the temperature rises considerably, it is not usually in February. The temperature rise this month is likely to affect production by at least 20%,” he stated.

As per Vidyadhar Joshi, director of the Devgad Taluka Mango Growers Co-operative Society Ltd, the current heat has already begun to damage ripe mangoes on trees. “The current temperature at my farm is 38 degrees C. During a normal season in February, the temperature hovers around 35 degrees C,” said Joshi, who records the temperature at his farm with a hygrometer, which measures relative humidity and temperature directly.

Joshi added that the ongoing temperature is likely to affect Alphonso mango production as extreme heat tends to damage the fruits. “As it is, climate change has affected mango production in the state. This year, we saw above-normal flowering in January. However, most flowers dropped by January-end. We still do not know what caused the sudden flower-drop but climate change could be a cause,” he said.

Vivek Bhide, chairman, Konkan Mango Growers Association, said that the ongoing high temperature condition being witnessed in February this year was seen in March last year. “The extreme heat conditions are not only causing flower-drop in mango trees but also reddish spots on the fruit, associated with sunburn. If the current heat trend continues for another week, we predict more premature flower dropping, which may ultimately affect production of mangoes,” he said.

A researcher from Balasaheb Sawant Konkan Krishi Vidyapeeth explained that several growers in Sindhudurg are also facing problems related to ‘sun-scarred’ mangoes. “This is more so the case with those who have the fruit coming up on trees. The temperature can also cause the mature fruit to drop off trees,” he said.
Devgad Alphonso Mango

Devgad Alphonso Mango