Mango: Yield, Harvest and Post-Harvest Handling

mango yield
Mango tree

James Mwangi Ndiritu

Environmental Governance and Management, Agribusiness consultant

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Mango yield per hectare – Mango yields per acre

Mango trees start producing fruits after the 6th year of their life (3-4 years for grafted mangoes), reaching optimum yields from the 10-15th year and can maintain good production for approximately 40 years. The average yield of a mango orchard can range from 5-22 tons per hectare (2-9 tons per acre), with 400-600 fruits per tree. Some references also mention that the total yield per tree can reach 2,500 fruits during the 40th year of a tree’s life and under optimum conditions. Of course, like in any other fruit tree, the final yield highly depends on the variety selected, the planting density, the climatic conditions, the cultivation practises applied, etc.

When and How to harvest mango fruits

Indications to define the harvesting moment for mango

For mature mango trees (without chemical inducer application), fruits mature 82-120 days after full flowering.

Visual characteristics of fruit maturity are:

  1. Flattened shoulder at the stem end
  2. Fullness of the cheeks
  3. Yellow-green pedicel end
  4. Yellowing of the pulp

Harvest can start when the farmer observes that 1-2 ripe mangos start falling to the ground or when the specific gravity of the fruit is 1.01-1.02.

All fruits within its panicle do not mature simultaneously, but mature or not, it has specific days to be harvested. Floatation in 1% solution is a convenient non-destructive method for separating mature fruits from immature ones. Another way to define the moment mango is ripe enough to be harvested is moisture content (since it is a factor closely related to fruit maturity). The fruit is usually ready to be picked with a moisture content of about 80 % or less. The following procedure may be applied to determine maturity:

Pick a representative sample of fruit that has already attained the average mature size of the cultivar. Store the fruit at room temperature until it ripens. Experience is an essential factor in determining the picking maturity. Not all the fruit on the tree will reach the same degree of maturity simultaneously. If there is any doubt, it is better to wait than to harvest prematurely.

Harvesting: Always handle mango fruit carefully during harvesting and packing because fruits are bruised and scratched easily. Fruit pickers should wear gloves when harvesting fruits to ensure their fingernails do not scratch them. The fruit should be cut off and not pulled from the trees. A section of stalk, measuring 10 to 15 mm (0.4-0.6 in), may be left attached to the fruit. Healthy fruit should be carried in canvas picking bags. The bags must be clean inside. Do not carry many fruits in such a picking bag at one time. A tripod ladder may reach fruits high in the tree. The farmers are advised to use suitable equipment that will prevent unnecessary damage to the fruits, save labour, and will also be safer for labourers.

Post-harvest handling and storage of mangoes

Handling: mature mango Fruits should be taken one by one from the picking bag by hand and placed in the trays/ cartons. Take special care when transporting fruit to the pack house. Trays containing fruit awaiting transport should be kept under the shade under the trees. If not enough shade, the fruit should be covered with empty trays and placed upside down.

Do not spread a tarpaulin over the trays because it will reduce ventilation and cause the temperature below it to rise. Harvested fruit should be removed from the orchard as soon as possible. Packing and dispatching the fruit to the market or placing it in cold storage on the day it is harvested is essential.

Fruits are graded according to variety, size, weight or diameter. Sort out immature, undersized, damaged and diseased fruits during grading. Bamboo baskets lined with newspapers are used to pack mangoes for local markets. The mangoes are placed in wooden crates or carton boxes for export. If necessary, mangoes should be stored at 9-10 °C(48-50 °F). Ripe mangoes at this temperature can be stored for 18-21 days, while freshly matured fruits for 23-26 days.

Careful handling during harvest and packing operations reduces the physical damage that facilitates the establishment of microorganisms. Controlling temperatures to which produce is exposed is one of the main tools to control post-harvest diseases since it diminishes the metabolic activity of the microorganisms and, by reducing the rate of the ripening process, the natural defences of the product are kept high. Controlling the relative humidity, mainly to avoid water condensation on the product and controlled atmospheres, is also valuable for controlling post-harvest diseases.

Grading and packing

It is essential to take precautions against bruising.

Persons handling the fruit must wear gloves. The tables on which the fruit is placed must be clean and smooth. Each fruit stem must be cut back with a sharp knife to a length of 6 to 12 mm (2.3-4.7 in). Grade fruit for export according to appearance. Fruit is suitable for export if it is virtually free of blemishes and has a regular shape. Fruit suitable for export is transferred to a different table. The fruit may now be treated with a suitable post-harvest fungicide and, after waxing, packed in a suitable box.

Cold storage: To delay ripening, fruits must be stored at a low temperature as soon as possible. The lower the temperature, the longer the fruit will take to ripen. However, storage temperatures that are too low will cause cold damage to fruit. A temperature of 5.5 °C (42 °F) is generally best. Early-maturing fruits may be kept at a slightly higher temperature, while late-season fruit may be kept at a slightly lower temperature.


Find more information in the book: “Success in Agribusiness: Growing Mango successfully” written by James Mwangi Ndiritu

Find more information in the book: “Success in Agribusiness: Growing Mango successfully” written by James Mwangi Ndiritu

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Mango tree Propagation

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Planning and Planting a Mango Orchard

Mango Water Requirements and Irrigation Systems

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Most Common Pests Affecting Mangoes

The most important Mango Diseases

Mango: Yield, Harvest and Post-Harvest Handling


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