If you want your mango tree to develop a strong structure, you must prune it at the right time.
This maintenance activity is essential if you want a good harvest from your mango tree.
So, when to prune mango trees in Florida?
Here’s everything you need to know. But first of all, let’s start with a simple introduction.
What is Pruning?
Pruning is the selective removal of diseased, dead, or loose branches to maintain the health and beauty of your mango tree.
According to USDA Forest Service, pruning can encourage fruit production.
The idea is that you can prune your mango tree for different reasons. Let’s take a look at some of them:
- Pruning for safety: This involves the removal of branches that could fall off during windy weather or heavy storm.
This can prevent injury or property damage.
- Pruning for fruit production: The removal of rotted and dead limbs encourages greater fruit production.
- Pruning for health: You can remove any portion of your mango tree that has a disease.
This further increases air circulation and exposure to sunlight.
To summarise, pruning maintains the height of your tree.
We usually remove erect branches that are less fruitful than spreading branches. Plus, it also improves flowering (eventually fruit set).
When you know this, let’s move on straight to the next topic.
When to Prune Mango Trees in Florida?
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to pruning mango trees.
After all, the main objective is to develop a good tree structure. But, pruning at different times can lead to different results.
For example, if you want your newly planted tree to grow faster, consider pruning it in late winter.
On the other hand, pruning in early spring will reduce the size of your mango tree. This is because tall mango trees make the harvesting process difficult.
Let me explain all this to you in detail.
Overview: Formation pruning should be carried out in spring on the newly planted mango trees. Then, pruning immediately after the first harvest will prepare the tree for the next season. After this, a time-sensitive pruning, 2-4 weeks before the flowering period, should be done.
Pruning Young Mango Trees:
A nursery sapling typically produces fruit in about three to four years.
Pruning newly planted trees is crucial for their initial shaping.
This is because young mango trees grow rapidly in the humid subtropical climate of Florida. So, here’s a step-by-step guide for this process.
Step 1: Start the Formation Pruning
This type of pruning is to give shape to your young mango tree. It is carried out during the first three years.
Note that formation pruning is done in the spring. Here’s what you should do.
As your tree grows to over 1 metre, cut back the main shoot between 0.6 to 0.7 metres.
This pruning will encourage your young mango tree to grow in width than in height. So, your tree will start branching.
This is great because we want a spreading tree instead of a tall one.
When you are done, move on to the next step.
Step 2: Second and Third Formation Pruning
You will prune your young mango tree for the second time in the second spring after planting.
At this stage, you will remove primary branches that are about 80 cm apart. This will encourage the growth of secondary branches.
Note that primary branches originate from the main trunk of your tree.
In the third year (spring), you will prune some secondary branches to encourage the growth of tertiary branches.
In this way, you will have a strong tree structure to give you flavorful mangoes.
When you know about young mango trees, let’s move on to mature trees.
Pruning After First Harvest:
Pruning mature mango trees is slightly different from pruning young mango trees.
Pruning your mango tree immediately after the first harvest will renew the fruiting wood.
You should know that fruiting wood is the wood that produces fruit spurs. So, pruning at this stage will stimulate the growth of new fruiting wood.
This is to prepare your mango tree for the next season. Now, here’s something interesting.
Generally, mangoes are available from late May to October in Florida. So, this process should be completed by the end of December.
At this stage, here’s what you need to do.
- Hygiene: Remove any dead or diseased branches that can cause infection.
- Skirting: Remove the low-hanging branches to maintain the size of your mango tree.
- Opening up: Remove the branches that clutter the centre. This allows air circulation and penetration of sunlight.
To summarise, prune your mango tree each year after harvest when it reaches the bearing age.
With this, let’s move on to the next point.
Pruning Before Flowering:
You have pruned your mango tree after the first harvest.
Now, it is time for this time-sensitive pruning. This maintenance should be carried out 2-4 weeks before the flowering period.
In Florida, mangoes typically bloom from December to April (depending on the climate and variety).
The fruits ripen three to four months after the bloom season. The question is, why is this important?
At this stage, you can carry out tip pruning. As the name suggests, you just remove the very tip instead of a complete branch.
You can also remove any low-hanging branches or branches cluttering up the inside of the tree.
The best part?
After the first few years, the need for this pruning will be reduced and ultimately eliminated.
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When you know this, let’s move on to the next topic.
How to Prune Mango Trees?
We are going to prune the mango tree in just 2 steps.
But before moving ahead, let’s talk about the pruning tools that you need for this process.
- Hand pruner (pruning shears): If you want to cut branches or twigs that are less than one inch in diameter, a hand pruner will do the job.
You can use an anvil pruner (having a single blade that presses against a flat edge) to remove dead stems or branches.
On the other hand, a bypass pruner (having overlapping blades, like scissors) is good for making a precise cut in a scissor action.
A tip is to use gardening gloves when using pruning shears.
So, hand pruners are easy to carry and can easily remove small stems and branches.
- Lopper (lopping shears): They are pruners with long handles and are used for removing quite large branches.
They can remove branches around two inches (around 50 mm) in diameter.
So if you want to increase your reach during pruning, a lopper is what you need.
- Pruning Saw: It will help you remove large branches and trunks (around 3-5 inches in diameter).
So if you want to remove thicker branches from your mango tree that loppers cannot handle, a pruning saw is recommended.
You can use a pole pruner as well to trim limbs beyond your reach. This tool is useful for large mango trees.
Now, let’s discuss how to prune your mango tree.
Step 1: Formation Pruning
To establish a framework of main branches, we are going to carry out formation pruning on our young mango tree.
So, let’s start from the beginning.
If you have a whip (a long, straight stem with no branches), cut a height of 60-100 cm.
You should make this cut at a 45-degree angle (using a hand pruner) above the bud. As a result, the buds near the top of the whip will form branches.
Now, we are going to prune the new growth for further branching. At this stage, we have primary branches (branches that emerge from a tree’s canopy).
You should select 3-5 branches to serve as main branches. Now, shorten these branches to a length of 30 cm from the trunk.
This will lead to the formation of a structure with secondary branches. So, we are going to prune the new growth by cutting at a 45-degree angle.
Note that this cut should be made above the outward-facing bud.
This is how we will carry out formation pruning to create a strong structure that can support a good load of mangoes.
Now, let’s move on to the next step.
Step 2: Maintenance Pruning
Formation pruning for the first few years was essential for the initial shaping of the mango tree.
If you want your mature mango tree to keep producing flavorful mangoes that are easier to harvest, you should carry out maintenance pruning.
- Remove the 3 D’s.
First of all, we are going to remove dead, damaged, or diseased wood (3 D’s).
If a branch is brittle and breaks very easily, it is dead. If a branch has a different color than other branches around it, it is usually diseased.
Once you have identified any of these branches, make a cut to the nearest bud where the wood is healthy.
- Prune suckers.
These thin shoots or branches grow near the base of the trunk.
The idea is to remove competing branches that are growing straight up into the tree.
This is the reason you should also remove upward-growing branches as they may damage other branches.
Now, let’s move on to the next point.
- Prune to renew the fruiting wood.
Once you have removed all the damaged wood and competing branches, it is time to make the mango tree smaller and more fruitful.
This means that we will be cutting 20 to 30% of last year’s growth.
The cut should be made at a 45-degree angle, above the outward-facing bud. This will ensure that the new growth is directed away from the trunk of the tree.
This is how we will maintain our fruit-producing mango trees.
This takes us straight to the next topic.
Types of Tree Pruning:
As we discussed earlier, you can prune your mango tree for different results.
Let’s take a look at some types of tree pruning.
- Crown reduction: If you have large mango trees, crown reduction pruning can decrease the height and spread of the canopy.
This process can also promote the growth of a young mango tree. This is because branches are cut back to laterals.
So, your mango tree produces healthier fruit because of the increased sunlight and fewer competing branches.
- Crown thinning: In this process, you selectively remove smaller and weaker limbs from the top of your mango tree.
This allows air movement and light penetration through the crown of the tree.
- Crown lifting: If you want to achieve vertical clearance for your young mango tree, this process is for you.
In this process, low-hanging branches and limbs are removed.
When you know about this, let’s move on to the next topic.
Related Questions About Pruning Mango Trees:
Now, let me answer some frequently asked questions about pruning mango trees in Florida.
Why is Tree Pruning Important?
Pruning is a great way to maintain young and established plants.
The removal of dead and diseased branches allows the tree to develop stronger and healthier ones.
To summarise, pruning mango trees regulate their growth, increases yields, and improves fruit size and quality.
Can I Prune in the Fall?
In general, you should avoid pruning young trees in the fall.
This is because autumn pruning can stimulate new growth at a time when the tree is preparing for dormancy.
This will leave the new growth exposed to frost damage.
However, some established fruit trees can be pruned at this stage.
If you want a healthy mango tree that produces flavorful mangoes, you should prune it regularly.
The climate of Florida is great for growing mangoes. So, let me summarise the topic for you.
For the initial shaping of a mango tree, we carry out formation pruning for the first few years in spring.
Then, we prune immediately after the first harvest to prepare the mango tree for the next season. Finally, we do tip pruning 2-4 weeks before the flowering period.
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