Curator's Choice Mangos: The Mangos of Fairchild—Evolution

Noris Ledesma, a Curator of Tropical Fruit, has carefully selected mango cultivars well-suited to contemporary conditions. These cultivars represent a new generation of mangos with superior horticultural traits.

We have featured mangos from the far reaches of the world; each location with its own unique genetic mix, particular look, flavor and texture. Our twenty two-year tour of the mango world has been full of adventure, lore and of course taste. We have been taken to Asia and Africa, North and South America and now we have come back to South Florida and to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. We are ready to speak of the Fairchild “brand”. This brand celebrates the diversity of the fruit, as well as a future for the mango limited only by our imagination and genetic diversity. We have well over 500 mango varieties thriving in the Redland at the Fairchild Farm. Each variety is unique and worthy of appreciation on its own merits. The living collection holds the secrets of a world of mangos as well as the very future of this fruit through each varieties unique genetic code.

Mango Festival can hand-pick the best that we have to offer from our 600 varieties in the Living Genetic Collection. Our Mango tree selection remains small in stature, yet produce top quality fruit. Trees are approximately 3 ft. in height, growing in a 2 gallon plastic pot. For your convenience, a tree holding area is available both days of the Festival. (Sorry, we cannot pre-sell, hold or ship trees.).

2014 Curator's Choice Selections:

 ‘Azucar’ (Colombia)Azucar

Azucar is widely considered the national mango of Colombia, as its flavor speaks to the Tropical lowlands and sweet cane sugar. It is a polyembryonic cultivar that has been savored by many generations of children and the young at heart. The average fruit size is 220 g and the color ranges from barium yellow to azalea pink when exposed to the sun. The flesh is saffron yellow with coarse fiber throughout, but fret not, for the mango is destined to be softened and sucked out of the fruit. Azucar can be found in street markets throughout the Colombian lowlands and can fetch high prices. The tree is easy to grow, with consistent production and a signature flavor not to be missed.  

‘Vallenato’ (Colombia) vallenato

Vallenato is an heirloom mango from the Atlantic Coast of Colombia. The fruit has beautiful deep vermilion red skin and is oval with an average size of 10 oz (283 g). The flesh is firm and melting, with a spicy, aromatic flavor of citrus and apricot. It has a firm consistency that gives this mango an exceptional storage life even without refrigeration and makes it perfect for shipping to friends across town or on the other side of coutry. The tree has an open spreading canopy habit but can be trained with proper pruning. Older trees will develop a strikingly beautiful domed canopy.  It is an early fruiting season; and there is a need to thin fruit in most years to improve fruit size and quality.

'Angie' (Florida)

'Angie' was selected for home garden and estate agriculture in South Florida due to its compact growth habit, disease tolerance and overall fruit quality. The fruit are 400 g, oblong and saffron yellow with Indian orange blush on the sun-exposed shoulders. The skin is smooth and without visible lenticels. The flesh is tangerine orange and without fiber. The flavor is classified in the 'Alphonso' class of mangos with a deep sweetness and sophisticated profile rich in apricot. The disease tolerance is excellent and given its early season it often can be harvested before the rainy season in South Florida. The tree is semi-dwarf and highly manageable with annual pruning. Size can be maintained at or below 3 m with consistent production. The tree is easy to grow if nitrogen is kept low and the tree is not over-watered or grown in soils prone to flooding or with a high watertable.

'Fairchild' (Panama)

'Fairchild' was selected by Dr. David Fairchild and his family in the early 1900s, in the Panama Canal Zone. The small, oblong fruit average 10 oz. and have lemon yellow skin at maturity in June and July. The juicy, fiber free flesh is deep orange and aromatic, with a rich, spicy flavor. 'Fairchild' always ranks among the top cultivars in public evaluations at Fairchild's annual International Mango Festival. The tree and fruit are highly tolerant of disease and fruit well under humid conditions, making it a natural for South Florida. The tree is among the most ornamental of mangos, with its compact shape and deep green color. It can be maintained at a height and spread of 8 ft. or less, perfect for those with a modest-sized home garden.

'Mallika' (India)

Mallika is a hybrid between Neelum and Dasheri, and is considered among the best of the new generation of Indian dessert mangos. The tree is semi-dwarf, making it attractive to mango growers outside of India, who are always looking for new niche markets around the world. The bright yellow fruit are a flattened oblong shape, with a rounded base and an irregular, non-waxy skin. The fruit weigh from 10 to 18 oz. When properly ripened, the pasty, but completely fiber-free flesh is a deep orange, with an intensely sweet, rich and highly aromatic flavor. Mallika fruit are harvested mature-green, before they break color on the tree and should be stored at a temperature of not less than 70°F for 2 to 3 weeks for proper ripening. In this manner their ultimate eating quality will be achieved. The fruit can be refrigerated after complete ripening, but not before.

 'Nam Doc Mai' ( Thailand)

'Nam Doc Mai' is among the best dessert mangos of Thailand, with an exceptional appearance and eating quality. The fruit are long, slender and sigmoid, weighing from 12 to 16 oz. The ripe fruit range from a greenish- to canary-yellow, rarely with a reddish blush on the sun-exposed shoulder. The flesh is soft and juicy, with a sweet and aromatic flavor. 'Nam Doc Mai' has no fiber. In Thailand and throughout much of Asia, it encompasses what is most desired in terms of versatility and quality. It is used while mature green for dipping in sauces and for making sweet preserves and pickles. When ripe, they have a smooth, silky texture and extreme sweetness and bouquet. It has found a home in the Caribbean, where it grows and fruits well.

'Neelum' (India)

Neelum  is a South Indian dessert mango, widely grown throughout the country and to an increasing extent in southernmost China. The fruit weigh 9 oz, with a ovate-oblique shape. They are smooth-skinned and bright yellow upon ripening and have no blush. The flesh is deep yellow or orange. There is no fiber and a rich, aromatic flavor that is over-powering to the unaccustomed palate. Neelum is best eaten out-of-hand, or used as slices or cubes in mixed fruit salads, as the firm flesh holds its shape. They have a late ripening season and can be stored for an extended time, which offers advantages in marketing. However, the fruit are only occasionally exported outside of their production areas, due to significant local demand. Neelum is a dwarf tree and may fit into modern production systems, which will hopefully increase its availability in commercial export markets.

 'Rosigold' (Florida)

'Rosigold' is a local selection of Southeast Asian heritage. It is the answer to those who just cannot wait for the mango season to arrive, because the fruit ripen from middle to late March. The fruit are cylindrical, weighing 11 oz and are a bright yellow, with crimson and red highlights on the sun-exposed shoulders. The skin is thick, tender and adhesive to the soft, melting and juicy deep-orange flesh. The flavor is rich, aromatic and sweet, with a hint of the Asian Tropics. There is no fiber in the silky flesh. The tree is small, manageable and highly productive and can be kept at 8 ft, while maintaining proper health and fruiting. Blooming often occurs in successive waves throughout the winter, resulting in a multi-harvest fruiting season. There is a need to thin fruit in most years to improve fruit size and quality.

'Cogshall' (Florida)

Cogshall was selected on Pine Island, Florida in the 1940s for its small tree size, good production, eating quality and beauty. It remained a local favorite for many years, but due to the softness of its flesh, it never became a commercial success.  The fruit weigh from 10 to 18 oz. The color is an eye-catching yellowish-orange, overlaid with a brilliant crimson blush. The soft, completely fibreless flesh has an excellent rich, spicy and aromatic flavor, which is sure to please even the most finicky of mango connoisseurs. The fruit and trees have good tolerance to fungal diseases. Fruit should be handled with care, as they are easily damaged due to the thin skin and soft flesh. The Cogshall tree remains small and compact and with minimal pruning can be maintained at a height and spread of 6 ft or less. Such a tree will easily produce 30 to 40 lb (3 to 4 boxes) of fruit while retaining health and vigor. The fruit is not available commercially outside of South Florida, and even within this region it is extremely difficult to find.

'Manilita' (Mexico)

It is a selection of 'Manila' from the Pacific Coast of Mexico. The fruit are small and elongated, weighing 250 g (9 oz). The color is an eye-catching pastel red, which covers all but the nose of the fruit. The flesh is light yellow and silky-smooth, with a pleasing sweet and uncomplicated flavor. It is perfect for eating out of hand, for slicing and for dehydrating. The fruit ripen early in the mango season, allowing the grower to have a jump on the season. It is often the earliest red mango to ripen in Florida. The tree is dwarf and disease resistant and is perfectly suited for container or patio production. Tree size can be maintained at 2 m or less in height and 1.5 m in spread. Production is not heavy, but ample harvests can be maintained with proper care.  

'Graham' (Trinidad)

Graham is a descendent of Julie selected in Trinidad. The fruit are oval, with a flattened base and a rounded apex, ranging in weight from 16 to 29 oz, with an average of 13 lb. The stem is petite and set in a shallow depression, reminiscent of Julie. The fruit ripen from mid-July to August to a bright yellow, rarely with a slight pink blush. The skin is thick and tough and tolerant of rough handling. The flesh is completely fibreless, deep orange, soft and juicy with a sweet, rich and aromatic flavor. During the late summer, a finer-flavored mango would be hard to locate. Graham is similar to Julie, both in its growth habit, and fruit shape. The tree, however, grows better in moist, humid conditions, typical in South Florida. The tree is compact, and with annual pruning can be maintained with a size and spread of 8 ft or less, perfect for the space-limited homeowner. The fruit are larger than Julie and fruiting is more dependable. There will be less headaches in growing a Graham and more time eating this fruit.

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