The Mango Loa project is to demonstrate ultra high density plantation (UHDP) methods. UHDP is a new innovative technique that is having promising results. Mango trees will be planted at an 8 foot x 10 foot spacing that will fit 550 trees on one acre. UHDP require intensive pruning to maintain trees at 7′ height x 7′ width, drip irrigation along with a fertigation system is installed for more efficient use of inputs. The small stature of the trees will enable the farmer to do all pruning from the ground with no need for ladders or any heavy equipment. Visual inspection of the orchard for pests and diseases, as well as the application of chemicals, will be better accomplished. Harvesting by hand will reduce damage to the fruit, increasing the value of the produce. It is said that one farmer will be able to maintain 10 acres of mango using UHDP techniques.
The objectives of the Mango Loa project are to demonstrate Ultra High Density Plantation techniques for mango production. To introduce new innovative techniques that can improve productivity, while lowering costs with more efficient use of imputs, like water and nutrients.
The project began by starting 600 seedlings of “common” mango. This mango is polyembrionic, meaning one seed will produce between one and ten seedlings. Polyembrionic seeds are also clonal, in that they are identical, which will give the orchard uniformity because all the seedlings are the same. “Common” mango seedlings take from 10 to 18 months to get big enough for grafting. Six varieties were selected for propagation; four commercial varieties (Rapoza, Nam Doc Mai, Kiett, and Manzanillo) and two local varieties (Haden and Pirie). Grafting was used for propagation; cleft grafting was used if the scion wood matched the rootstock and side grafting was used if they were different sizes. Both methods produced excellent results. Grafting began after the flowering season, which in Hawaii is about March, and continued from March to September, until there was 350 grafted mango trees.
Field preparation began by hiring a bulldozer to clear the field of brush and grass. next, the field was laid out with ten rows and thirty trees per row at an 8′ x 10′ spacing, each row is 250′ long. A mini excavator was used to dig the holes at 2′ x 2′ width and depth. The next step was to back fill the holes adding a half pound of 16-16-16 and half pound of neem cake to each hole. Once a row was back filled, 1/2″ black tubing was laid down and covered with three foot wide black ground cover.
With the field prepped and laid out, it is time to start planting. I began by planting all four sides, then I planted a row in the middle to use as site points to try to line up the trees. I am currently half way through planting the field.
There are no results for the project at this time.
Educational & Outreach Activities
Being in the first few months of the project I have not gathered enough data to develop much educational material. I have met with farmers across the islands at the Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers (HTFG) state conference, where I introduced my project. I have also met with the island chapter of HTFG and have been setting up a time for a field day/ tour for March 2018. I have also met with the agriculture instructor to set a time for a sustainability presentation/grafting workshop with students in his program. At this point I have had the most outreach success with a Facebook group (The Mango Loa Project) that I started that has a bunch of farmers that have joined and are active in the discussion of ultra high density plantings. I will continue to grow the group and present my project this way, giving me the opportunity to reach fruit growers on the other islands. I have also set up a website at umisfarm.com, where I will be chronicling the project and its results. I have been working one on one with one mango farmer, who has about 170 mature mango trees in a more traditional mango orchard, with 50 trees per acre. He has been coming to my farm once a week to help and discuss the project and at this point is showing interest in planting using ultra high density.
Training and pruning
understanding ultra high density
Hawaii is in the process of rebuilding its agricultural industry. The collapse of the sugar plantation left a huge gap in agriculture and up until this time has yet to recover. Tropical fruits is in high demand and Hawaii’s farmers are trying to meet the need. The Mango Loa project and the use of ultra high density plantation techniques has the potential to improve the entire tropical fruit industry. Densely packing the fields with trees will allow for a more thorough use of an acre of land, leaving less space available for weeds to grow. The low trees are managed completely from the ground. Pruning, while labor intensive, require nothing more than clippers and a hand saw. Low trees will allow for easier inspection and application of chemicals. Harvesting will be conducted by hand reducing the risk of damage and improving the quality of the fruit. Also the low trees will allow for easier protection of the fruit from bird, bug, and critter damage; bagging the fruit or installing bird netting can be better accomplished. The use of drip irrigation and Fertigation (the use of irrigation to distribute nutrients) allow for a more efficient use of inputs. India, where these techniques are being developed, report that using these methods enable one farmer to manage as much as 10 acres of mango. Reducing labor costs and the need for expensive special equipment, while increasing production through better practices, will go a long way in improving the sustainability of Hawaii’s farmers.