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A few California farmers have long pushed the envelope by trying to grow crops like pineapples or lychees that are really a bit too tropical for local conditions but still tantalizing in their possibilities.

 A case in point is the mango, which just barely gets enough heat in the scorching Coachella desert to merit being grown commercially; all the more amazing that Markov Farms of Valley Center, located in a coastal climate zone even less well adapted to the fruit, is finally starting to market its crop at farmers markets, albeit with a catch.

It could not have happened without two brothers, Michael and Robert Markov, whose willingness to experiment and whose tenacity have put them in a position to refute the naysayers who said, based on more than a century of futile attempts, that mangoes couldn't be grown commercially in coastal areas.

By selecting well-adapted varieties and coddling the trees for many years, a few homeowners in special locations have managed to coax impressive mangoes from coastal gardens.

 But growing fruit for private enjoyment is far different from commercial farming, for which the costs of land, water and other inputs must be balanced against the expected return.

Michael Markov, 65, born and raised in Pasadena, served as a pilot in the Navy and then became a private helicopter pilot specializing in agricultural spraying. Fifteen years ago, he and his brother Robert, now 57, bought a 60-acre property in Valley Center, in north San Diego County, which they planted mostly to avocados, the area's largest fruit crop.

To manage their grove, they hired Jaime Serrato, who, in addition to farming standard crops, had a knack for choosing and growing under-exploited fruits that appealed to California's growing Latino community, such a tejocotes, sweet limes and guavas. 

Michael Markov says that he vividly recalls seeing mango trees loaded with fruit at a test planting that Serrato farmed in his area and thinking, "Why couldn't I do that?"

So 12 years ago, along with 4 acres of guavas, he had Serrato plant 4 acres of Valencia Pride mangoes, about 500 trees, ordered from Florida. 

By long experience, home gardeners have found that this variety, which originated in Florida, is one of the few that is adapted to coastal California conditions, because the trees are vigorous, relatively cold-tolerant and produce large fruit with sweet, juicy, aromatic and fiber-free flesh.

However, mango trees, which are native to tropical areas of India and Southeast Asia, require a lot of heat over the course of the season to grow strongly and fruit prolifically. Even near the Salton Sea, where three owners farm about 300 acres of mangoes and summer temperatures often exceed 120 degrees, the trees take their own sweet time to bear fruit.

Fifty miles west and over the mountains from the desert, Valley Center has enough moderating maritime influence on its climate to make the area perfect for citrus and avocados but marginal for mangoes. 

The main problem is that insufficient heat causes the trees to grow agonizingly slowly.

"Five or six years into this project, the trees were just a few feet tall, and we weren't getting any crop," said Michael Markov. "We were shaking our heads and wondering what we got ourselves into."

There were many other challenges and things that the Markovs would have done differently in retrospect. They planted on a hilltop, from which cold air drains down, to avoid freezes, but even so on several occasions cold snaps and high winds killed or damaged their trees, which are especially tender when young. They also learned the hard way that mulching was critical to nurturing the growth of mango trees in the thin, poor soil of their location.

More impatient growers might have yanked out the trees, but the Markovs persevered. Even when they finally started to see a decent crop, three years ago, they found that the fruits didn't ripen until February, five months after the season in the desert. Although that timing was odd, it wasn't necessarily bad in itself, but it did have the unfortunate result that their precious crop had to withstand the full brunt of winter cold, wind and rain. The wind knocks ripe fruits off the trees, and most problematically, the moisture causes the development of anthracnose, a fungal disease that is the scourge of mango growers in many areas around the world.

To avoid losing most of their crop to this disease, which causes black spots on the skin that eventually spread and spoil the fruit, the Markovs started harvesting their mangoes in the green stage, at which point Asians use them, like green papayas, for making salads. However, when sold to the Asian American market, the green mangoes did not earn enough of a premium to justify their upkeep, and the Markovs considered going through farmers markets, where the crop's unusual timing and local origin would be a selling point.

Source: Los Angeles Times

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While "Flavor" is very subjective, and each country that grows mangoes is very nationalistic, these are the mango varieties that are the most sought after around the world because of sweetnesss (Brix) and demand.

The Chaunsa has a Brix rating in the 22 degree level which is unheard of!
Carabao claims to be the sweetest mango in the world and was able to register this in the Guiness book of world records.
Perhaps it is time for a GLOBAL taste test ???

In alphabetical order by Country....



Alphonso (mango)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Alphonso (हापुस Haapoos in Marathi, હાફુસ in Gujarati, ಆಪೂಸ್ Aapoos in Kannada) is a mango cultivar that is considered by many[who?] to be one of the best in terms of sweetness, richness and flavor. 

It has considerable shelf life of a week after it is ripe making it exportable. 

It is also one of the most expensive kinds of mango and is grown mainly in Kokan region of western India.

 It is in season April through May and the fruit wei…

Mangoes date back 65 million years according to research ...

Experts at the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany (BSIP) here have traced the origin of mango to the hills of Meghalaya, India from a 65 million year-old fossil of a mango leaf. 

The earlier fossil records of mango (Mangifera indica) from the Northeast and elsewhere were 25 to 30 million years old. The 'carbonized leaf fossil' from Damalgiri area of Meghalaya hills, believed to be a mango tree from the peninsular India, was found by Dr R. C. Mehrotra, senior scientist, BSIP and his colleagues. 

After careful analysis of the fossil of the mango leaf and leaves of modern plants, the BISP scientist found many of the fossil leaf characters to be similar to mangifera.

An extensive study of the anatomy and morphology of several modern-day species of the genus mangifera with the fossil samples had reinforced the concept that its centre of origin is Northeast India, from where it spread into neighbouring areas, says Dr. Mehrotra. 

The genus is believed to have disseminated into neighb…

DHL (INDIA) makes gifting mangoes as easy as 1-2-3-....

Gifting mangoes is now easy with DHL
Announcement / Corporate

 May 19, 2011, 14:04 IST

Come this summer pamper your loved ones abroad with a box of delicious mangoes through DHL’s Express Easy Mango service, a unique one-stop-shop and hassle-free service for gifting mangoes all across the world.

This unique service by DHL Express, the world’s leading express company, allows customers to send mangoes from India across the world to the following countries Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Hong Kong, Italy, Luxemburg, Maldives, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Qatar Singapore, Switzerland and Sweden.

Mangoes can be availed of free of cost by merely paying for the Air Express service. In addition, DHL Express assists customers with the necessary paperwork along with procurement of quality-grade Alphonso mangoes.

Commenting on the new service, Mr. R.S Subramanian, Country Head, DHL Express India said: “With the advent of the mango season, it is no wonder that DHL Express Ea…