Today's Punto
Today's Punto
Feature Article
Topworking makes inferior mango trees superior
By Anselmo Roque

Mar 14, 2017

SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ – Don’t kill your inferior mango trees. They can still be made to bear the classy varieties you so desire for your hearts’ – and pockets’ too – content.

This advice is from noted pomologist Bernardo Dizon who keeps on demonstrating to frustrated fruit tree owners how to transform their unwanted plants into being very productive ones.

“Topworking can make them superior,” Dizon said about the inferior mango trees. “It’s a simple procedure, really, and good results can be obtained in a few months,” he added.

In his plant techno-demo farm inside the Central Luzon State University (CLSU) here, he has carabao and Indian mango trees which have branches of other high quality varieties of this fruit tree.

In coordination with Dr. Tereso Abella, CLSU president, Dizon has successfully turned many unproductive mango trees on campus into good fruit bearers, with some of them having different varieties.

Showing samples, he said: “This carabao mango tree has now trunks of Nam Doc Mai of Thailand which is a major variety of commerce in Asia.”

He also showed fruit-bearing branches of the “Golden Queen” and “peach mango” on Indian mango trees.

“It is easy to do it,” Dizon said. “It can be very beneficial for disheartened fruit trees owners once it has been done,” he added.

He explained that in the topworking method, the trunk of the tree is cut down to as low as one meter above the ground and then allowed to develop new shoots. As soon as the stem of the shoots have grown to finger-size, topworking procedures can be done.

“In topworking, scions of the desired variety are grafted into the developed new shoots,” Dizon said. To the uninitiated, grafting is explained as an “asexual horticultural propagation technique of creating a permanent union of the stem of a mother tree, called rootstock, and the scion or a healthy shoot of the fruit-bearing desired plant to be grafted.

There are many types of grafting procedures. Among them are “inarch”, “bridge”, “splice”, “bark”, “saddle, and “cleft” grafts.

Of them all, the most popular, as it is simple and low-skill, is the “cleft grafting”.

Cleft grafting is done by: 1) cutting the end portion of the stem of the rootstock; 2) splitting it (or making a cleft) to a length of two to three inches; 3) the scion, which is sliced at both sides of the basal end to form a “v”, is inserted one to two inches to the rootstock; 4) the union is then tied with a small strip of a transparent plastic sheet; and 5) the remaining part of the scion is wrapped with a plastic strip and then capped by a tubular plastic sheet (like the one used for making an ice candy).

After three weeks, or when the scion is showing a growing bud, the plastic tube is removed and allowed to grow freely. “Owners of our mango trees topworked in January happily reported that their grafted trees are already bearing fruits as early as last week of May,” Dizon said. “They said they did not use any chemical fl ower inducer,” he added.

Dizon said that topworking is good for Carabao mango trees planted five meters apart each other and bearing few fruits only or none at all.

He said that probably, the owners were led to believe that close-distance planting can result to having more fruits to be harvested.

“Our Carabao mangoes have unique aromatic favor but their trees have specific characteristics and needs. Their branches should receive enough sunlight, they bear fruits six to seven months after flushing, and they fruit biennially,” he said.

On the other hand, he said, the Indian mango trees, although easy to grow and maintain, are not very attractive to the market and their selling price is cheaper.

“They can be topworked to produce quality and pricey mango fruits,” Dizon averred.

One critical aspect, however, in this technique is where to secure the desired scion sticks to be grafted. In his case, he said, he has mother plants of various varieties of high quality mango trees. It is from these trees where he gets the sticks to be inserted to the mango trees needing transformation.

“But if our communities can put up scion grooves, massive topworking works can be done at the least cost,” Dizon said.

The pomologist said that topworking can also be done with other kinds of inferior quality fruit trees. It can be carried out with oranges, tamarind, santol, rambutan, lanzones, durian and many other kinds of trees.

“Topworking can do a lot of good for making our inferior fruit trees grow into transformed trees that bears quality and very marketable fruits,” he said.

Dizon also maintains a techno-demo site and selling of propagated quality plants at the CLSU-Dizon Techno-demo Farm here and at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in Quezon City. He can be reached also through mobile phone 0908-876-4404.

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