Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana Linn of the family Gutiiferae) popularly known as the "queen of tropical fruits" is one of the most delicious and best flavored fruits in the world. It is one tropical fruit that is most ready accepted by the Western. It is a seasonal fruit that has a great domestic and export market.in the world.
(Source: Bureau of Agricultural Research, Date accessed 24 March 2014)
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Favorable Growing Conditions
Mangosteen thrives best in warm, humid environment. Ideal temperature is 20°C-30°C. A temperature of less than 20°C slows down growth. Ideally, rainfall should be well distributed throughout the year, but trees are known to grow successfully even under dry conditions with irrigation. The soil should be rich, porous, deep and wet but well drained. Heavy clay with a generous admixture of sand and silt, and a water table of about two meters are best. It also grows well up to an elevation of zero to 500 meters. The tree also thrives well along river banks, canals, ponds and lakes. It grows best in areas with a well distributed rainfall.
Seeds are sown in seed boxes, seed flats or pots, bamboo tubes or plastic bags, under a cover. In a week or two, the seeds sprout and the seedlings are to be kept in a nursery under partial shade and watered 3 to 4 times a week. Usually, the seedlings take about two years to become large enough for transplanting to a permanent field. At this stage, the plants are about 30 cm tall.
Before planting, condition the land and make it fit for the reception of the trees. In clearing, all tree stumps should be removed along with as many roots as possible. If a mangosteen orchard is to be established, land preparation follows the system for other fruit crops. This consists of deep plowing once and twice, followed by several harrowings, until the desired soil tilth is attained. Stakes are set at a distance of 8-10m corresponding to the recommended distance of planting for mangosteen. Holes are then dug at the positions occupied by the stakes where mangosteen seedlings are set and covered with soil.
Planting system and distance of planting
Mangosteen seedlings are ready to be transplanted to the field when they are two years old, at which age, they are about 25-30 cm tall. The seedlings are to be carefully removed from the containers and set in the holes to avoid disturbing the root system. The most suitable period to transplant is just after the rainy season has set in. Planting in an area where there are light shimmers is very helpful in ensuring satisfactory establishment of the young plants.
On level land, the trees are planted using the square system: spacing of at least 8m x 8m between rows and between trees in a row. Some 156 seedlings to a hectare are needed. The size of the holes should be 0.6m x 0.6m x 0.6m and filed with farm manure. Plants are then set out at the center of the hole. Gradually fill-in the hole with loose top soil. Gently press the soil until it firmly grips the plant.
Weeding and Cultivation
Ring-weeding at one meter radius and loosening the earth are practiced to preserve the fertility of the soil, as well as to allow the development of the plants. Areas between rows are plowed for better weed control and cultivation.
Intercropping and Cover Cropping
Planting intercrops and cover crops in the mangosteen orchard is more or less confined to the early years because, as the trees develop in size and status, not much unshaded space is left in between rows for their proper growth.
Mangosteen, in Sulu Archipelago, is usually planted with intercrops or peanut and other leguminous field crops, or with companion plants like abaca and banana, or marang and lansones trees. Other crops that may be intercropped also are "dapdap" or durian trees which can serve as partial shades.
Mangosteen trees respond well to manuring. Diluted organic fertilizer which can be absorbed slowly is desirable.
Also, application of a nitrogenous fertilizer can accelerate vegetative growth of the plants.
Fertilizer application varies with the age of the plant. Since ammonium sulfate is applied at planting time, succeeding application should follow a circular outline following the tree's canopy. Dig 4 to 6 holes following the circular plan on the ground. Put the fertilizer into the holes, cover to prevent volatilization, and to reduce runoff in case of heavy rains.
At planting time, apply 200-250 grams complete fertilizer per tree three inches below the roots and five inches at the side of the seeding. For young trees, mix and apply in two equal dosages 300-500 grams 14-14-14 or 12-24-12 and broadcast or apply, by digging a shallow furrow around each tree, 200-300 grams urea (45-0-0). Apply the first dosage at the start of the rainy season and the second dosage at the end of the rainy season.
During the fruit-bearing stage, mix then apply in two equal doses 1.5 to 3.0 kg 14-14-14 or 12-24-12 plus 200-300 grams Muriate of Potash (0-0-60). Apply in same manner as that for young trees.
Gradually increase the amount of fertilizer every year as the trees grow bigger and as fruit production increases.
Artificial irrigation is practiced during dry months. Water the plants as soon as they are transplanted and sustain during the times when precitation is not adequate in order to keep the soil moisture at a high level.
In the seedling stage, however, standing water over the roots can kill the plant outright.
Mangosteen is subject to several pests, the most common of which are mites, aphids, fructifier ants and mealy bugs. Others, such as tussock caterpillars feed on the leaves while coconut scales form colonies underneath the leaves which causes leaf yellowing in patches thus impairing plant growth.
Occasionally, sooty molds are found covering the leaves. Diseases due to anthracnose and bacterial leaf sheath have also been reported. As a preventive measure, the plants may be sprayed two four time a year with common fungicides at dosages recommended. Read the label before application.
Mangosteen usually flowers in 10 to 15 years but if given proper care, asexually propagated trees bear fruit in eight to nine years. It takes about five to six months from flowering stage to fruit ripening.
Harvesting is normally done from the month of August to October. The fruit is mature when its color changes from greenish brown to reddish purple and when it is rather soft to the touch.
Great care must be practiced when harvesting fruits. Be sure that the fruits are mature at harvest time, otherwise, they may fail to develop an excellent flavor.
Handle the fruits with great care while harvesting. Handpicking is a good method since the pericarp, which is still slightly soft at harvest is easily subjected to injury when the fruits fall. As an alternative method use a long pole with a hook at the tip and a catching basket attached at the end where the fruits will be collected.
The method of harvesting employed in Sulu is hand picking the fruit with its preduncle intact. Fruits are then bound together in elongated clusters of 15 pieces.
Source: Bureau of Agricultural Research, Date accessed 24 March 2014