It was a July noon some years back. The sky the colour of soiled aluminum and the air cool, thanks to the last night drizzle. They arrived at my iron gate travelling in a tempo dressed just in their socks. They were like the other 70 of them. As the day progressed the farm hands dug up wide holes in the wet ground, filled them with manure and planted each of them. For six long years, the summers with the sun beating unsparingly, the cool mornings of the winter months, the lazy and gentle days of spring and shedding leaf days of the autumn they grew steadily and today stand tall, have plenty of branches, look like an umbrella and with the new leaves resemble a bird in flight.
I call them my young beauties. My farm is their home and will continue to be for years to come, as long as I’m around.
The mango varieties I have are Mallika, Amrapali, Alphonso and Kesar. The first two are hybrid and the latter ones heirloom variety (or cultivars) of mangoes, around since ages.
What’s good about hybrids is that they are regulars unlike the cultivars which fruit once in two years. This year, my family and my close friends were all praise for the Mallikas and Amrapalis. In fact, I have been telling my farm friends that they should go for them. When I began six years back I didn’t know anything about plants, flowers and fruits but it was the nursery I sourced the saplings which insisted that I have the hybrids. I’m happy l listened to his sane advice.
Mallika, bred at the New Delhi’s Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) and released in 1972, it holds the distinction of being the first two mango varieties along with Amrapali developed by breeding. A cross between Neelum (female parent), which is a heavy yielding, regular bearing, late season variety of South India, and Dasheri (male parent), it bears fruits every year. The hybrid tends toward regular bearing, the fruits weighing around 300g are showier and are thicker of flesh than either parent, the flavour superior and keeping quality better. The fruits also have a moderate keeping quality. With a total soluble solids TSS content, a high percentage of pulp, fibrous flesh and fruit size of 300g.
A cross between Dasheri (female parent) and Neelum (male parent), the unique feature of Amrapali mango is that its trees are relatively dwarf and therefore easier to manage. A regular bearer, the fruits are relatively smaller sized and are borne in clusters. The keeping quality is good. The fruit is only medium in size; flesh is rich orange, fibreless, rich in vitamin A, sweet and 2 to 3 times as high in carotene as either parent.
There are various hybrid varieties of mango prepared by different institutes and universities in India. Some of the famous hybrid mango varieties are:
Mangeera, a cross between Rumani and Neelam, it’s a semi vigorous that has a regular bearing habit. The fruits are medium in size and it has light yellow coloured skin with firm and fibreless flesh. It is also very delicious and sweet in taste.
Ratna, a cross between Neelam and Alphonso, it’s a regular bearer and usually free from any spongy tissue. These are of excellent quality and medium in size. It looks deep orange in colour and the flesh of the fruit is fibreless.
Arka Aruna, a cross between Banganapalli and Alphonso it bears fruit regularly and is dwarf in stature. It can accommodate about 400 plants per hectare. The size of fruits is large and it has attractive skin colour. The pulp of fruit is fibreless and is sweet in taste.
Arka Puneet, a cross between Alphonso and the Banganapalli, it is a regular and prolific fruit bearing. The fruits of this variety are medium in size and posses attractive skin colour. The pulp of fruit is free from fibre and very sweet in taste