Ministry of Agriculture secretary Dr Matairangi Purea said he and his staff had noticed the lack of mangoes around Rarotonga. The fruit should be in abundance by now but have been a rare sight in shops and at Saturday’s Punanga Nui market.
“Some of my officials returned from Aitutaki and Mauke recently and commented on the lack of mangoes there,” Purea said
And it seems the main culprit responsible for the lacklustre season is mango blossom moths, which attacked the trees during the bout of dry weather about two months ago. Mangoes usually take about two and a half months to ripen, but this year most trees will not drop their usually steady offerings of the juicy and delicious stone fruit.
Purea said in former times, island residents used to burn their rubbish under their mango trees, and the smoke would deter the moths.
Many people no longer did this, and the moths had flourished Purea said. However, he knew of some trees in Titikaveka laden with mangoes and there was a commercial grower on the island who had sprayed his precious mango trees and produced a good crop.
“People who usually sell mangoes will make a loss, but then everyone will,” he said. Purea is hopeful the mango season will be better next year, as like avocadoes, the trees usually produce fruit usually in a biannual cycle.
“Mangoes seem to have a biannual pattern, so last year was good and next year we expect a bumper crop.”