During the summer season it is the mango ripening on the tree that draws a sigh from every passer-by. For now, the term “mango” refers to the malcurada or mankurad and the hapus or ratnagiri alphonso. The ethylene or acetylene-ripened fruits are available at the market at sky-high prices. The malgueso is not in the reckoning because only a few people know of its existence. It is still some time before the Ratna, mallika, amprapalli, xavier and udgo mangoes begin to mature. The manga hilario, fernandina, monserrata mangoes ripen almost at the end of the season in May and June. This year, the Botanical Society of Goa wants to bring the mangoes and the jackfruits back into focus. The Konkan Fruit Fest will be from May 25 to 27.
There is one way to determine whether a mango is artificially ripened or naturally ripened. If the mango pulp is ripe and sweet near the skin and gets sour as one eats closer to the seed, it is most likely to be artificially ripened. Traders wet calcium carbide powder to get acetylene gas (once upon a time used for welding of metal) or use an ethrel solution to release ethylene gas that mimics the ripening process. Both are banned by Goa FDA but so is formalin in fish. If one looks at complete bunches of ripe bananas, one either sees the daily reality of artificial ripening or believes in miracles! Bananas emerge with 12 to 18 bananas on each bunch. They also ripen in the same acropetal succession of the oldest banana ripening first. Mangoes take one week to ten days to ripen after harvest at maturity. Love is a mango that is ripe on the tree. We call it ‘ambear-piko’ or ‘amor-piko’ aambo. That is a delicacy for the privileged.
In normal conditions, the mango seed produces the ethylene gas, ripening it from the inside outwards. Thus, the fruit pulp is sweeter closer to the seed. In the artificial ripening process, the ripening is more near the skin or peel that absorbs the ethylene gas from the external source. Irregular, green patches on the fruit peel are the only sign of the artificial ripening that can be detected without cutting the fruit. This is one of the reasons why a mango fruit is cut and tasted by the judges at the annual Konkan Fruit Fest
The fruits that ripen during the rains are prime candidates for infestation by worms or maggots of fruit flies that multiply on fallen fruits of the earlier maturing varieties. The fruit fly lays eggs in the immature fruits and they develop into maggots or worms in the ripe mangoes. A low cost, environment-friendly and highly effective method of controlling the fruit fly (bactrocera dorsalis) is to use pheromone-based traps and to bury the fallen fruits. Pick a fruit fly trap for just `10 from the nearest Zonal Agriculture Office, the PCI dealers or gardening stores like Green Essentials, Green Goa Works or Kakoda Farms. The pheromone traps must be put now.