The hottest period of the year is the most favourable time for ripening of most of the mango varieties in the country. Thus, the highest quantity of the tropical fruit is harvested during the June-August period. Therefore, any variety of the fruit that matures after this prime time is usually considered late. The Ashwina variety of mango falls in the late category. No other mango had hitherto been known to us to ripen even after Ashwina. But now, thanks to the existence of four, and only four, trees at four places in two west zone districts, we have mangoes that mature for being harvested in late October.
However, is this variety of mango along with others akin really late? No, they are not. They may come much later than all others but fruits like mangoes are always contemporary. A late comer at school, office or workplace may be rebuked for being behind others in terms of time but there is none to chide a mango for arriving late. Rather, we will more cordially and more heartily welcome an off-season mango. Any time is the best time for taking the taste of mangoes as is the case with our national fish hilsa. We are always ready to invite mangoes to our house.
All the philosophising on mango, the king of fruits, boils down to a single point: We want to enjoy the superb taste of mangoes round the year. Harvesting of some mango varieties in September and late October, much later than the ideal period, gives us hope that mangoes can be grown over a period of seven to eight months, if not all the year long. Intensive research on mangoes can make this dream come true. We note with happiness that scientists have already collected samples from the ‘very late’ variety and are conducting research with a view to seeing if this mango can be cultivated on a wider scale.
Mangoes of about 500 varieties are already growing in the country now. Efforts should be made to develop new traits of stress tolerant mangoes through genome editing and other modern techniques. We can also collect from other countries samples of mangoes that we do not have.
However, exotic varieties should be introduced to our agriculture after careful domestication and naturalisation.