Different varieties of Mangoes, that can easily be grafted
It is most rewarding to watch new plants grow and propagate. Nature’s usual method is by means of seeds, but in many instances and especially in the case of Mangoes, cultivated plants do not come true from seeds. This has been discussed earlier in this column. So to perpetuate particularly desirable plants it may be necessary and quicker to propagate vegetatively, that is by cutting, layering, budding, grafting etc.
Out of all methods mentioned above, perhaps grafting appeals most to gardeners and nurserymen and it can be a rewarding and exciting way of raising young trees, especially where fruit trees are concerned, converting old but healthy trees to better varieties.
The aim of grafting is to unite the stem of a selected variety — the scions and a suitable rooted shoot or seedling — with the rootstock. In some respects it is a matter of good carpentry, clean, sharp cuts and good joints.
The principles behind grafting and budding are —
lThe rootstock and scion must be closely related to each other; they should be compatible.
lThere must be continuous close contact between the exposed living cells, the cambium layer between the bark and the wood.
Inarching, which is a commercial method of grafting Mango, is prevalent in India since ancient times. It finds mention in old Sanskrit literature. It is also learnt that inarching was started by the Portuguese in Goa about 300 years ago. It has also been known that the process was started by the Mughals in Pinjore near Chandigarh. Inarching is a laborious process but it gives good results.
In this method the potted rootstock is placed on a suitable platform near a selected scion shoot of equal thickens which is about the diameter of a lead pencil. Now with a sharp pruning knife make a clean cut of two to three inches length of the bark and wood from the root stock to be grafted. A corresponding cut is made in the scion shoot, so that two cuts correspond and get interlocked into each other. To aid union, the scion and the rootstock are bound together with wetted raffia or with polythene tape. The rootstock in pots are to be watered regularly. The stock and scion would unite in about six months.
Now a days propagation by veneer grafting is mostly preferred by nurserymen. This method differs from inarching in that the scion is completely detached from the mother tree at the time of grafting. Here the scion shoot consists of a healthy six to nine-inch long terminal shoot of the previous season's growth.
Its leaf-blades are cut off above the petioles about 10 days in advance so that the buds on the scion should be ready to sprout at the time of grafting. This is the most important point to be kept in mind. The grafting can be done by following the method as described earlier on rootstocks raised in pots or in the field (in situ). This method is particularly useful for making a collection of Mango varieties, since scions can be detached from the mother tree and brought for propagation from distant places.
There are other various methods of grafting practised, but these are most common.
Rejuvenation: In our country there are many Mango orchards that are old and unproductive. Closely-spaced orchards become senile quickly and these can be converted to productive ones.
The first step for rejuvenation is heading back (pruning of the top of the tree). Next the trunk is covered with gunny bags to save the bark from cracking in the strong sun. After two years of heading back numerous shoots emerge near the pruned surface. Orchardists usually keep seven to eight healthy shoots and remove the rests. The scions of good Mango cultivards are grafted on these emerged shoots, by adopting veneer grafting. Top-worked grafted plants start flowering and fruiting after three to four years.
Budding: This method is widely used by commercial growers, generally for fruit trees and roses. Mango-budding was first tried by the growers as early as 1899, but these early attempts were not successful.
However with proper preparation of budwood, wise selection of closely-related rootstock on which buds are inserted and other precautions, budding can have a success rate of up to 85 per cent.
Vigorous plants are obtained more quickly than if they are propagated by other means. In this method buds are taken from one-season-old mature shoots. A plump bud is selected and carefully cut out with the help of a sharp budding knife. Then the bud along with a patch of bark is inserted on a corresponding stem on the rootstock from which a piece of bark has been pulled down. The bark is then pulled up over the bud and the whole thing is tied with polythene tape.
The barks of Mango seedlings do not separate easily in young age. So the rootstock should be at least two to three years old. This, in a nut-shell, is the principle of budding.
Apart from the fact that Mango is one of the most delightful treats, the fruit is also enriched with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. All these will be discussed latter in this column.