Mangoes have been in relatively short supply so far this summer, but there is no shortage of other varieties of fruit, he says.
“It may have delayed the mango, but other fruits are doing well, such as the lychee which are abundant and the pawpaw.”
Tairea says nature looks after many of the older mango trees by taking out, through wind and storms, wood that has already produced fruit. However, they can always do with a helping hand.
“This wood won’t produce again, so pruning can be important to keep trees fruiting.”
He also says drier conditions suit the mango best.
“The Tupapa area has had substantial fruit, but it’s wetter on the southern side around Titikaveka.
It has been notable, people (in that area telling me they haven’t been eating mango.”
Ministry of Agriculture director of livestock Tiria Rere says breadfruit trees are also behaving differently this year.
“It used to be seasonal, but last year the trees were pretty much bearing all year round. It makes you wonder. We can definitely see the effects of a changing climate, I believe.”
He says he also noticed mango trees flowering earlier last year. “They started in about August and normally it is at least a month later than that.”
Tairea says the humid weather has also created perfect conditions for an increase in the fruit fly population.
“We have traps around the island, not in the orchards, but elsewhere. that attract the male fly. These are constantly monitored by our Agriculture boys and it keeps the populations down.” He says the Cook Islands have two species of fruit fly which are kept in check.
“The traps also serve to attract any foreign fly that has made it onto the island.”
He says the Oriental and Queensland fruit fly had been caught on Rarotonga in the past, in time to prevent them from reproducing.
Tairea and his team are currently involved in looking at what fruit and vegetables are growing successfully around the island and what varieties is needed, to “fill the gaps.”
This is done at the start of each year so that the ministry can evaluate what produce is needed the most.
“We want to avoid as many imports as possible, provide what is needed locally and keep the market buoyant,” says Tairea.