The Portuguese introduced the mango to a wider audience in the 16th century taking the fruit to Africa from Southern India. It reached Brazil and the W. Indies in the 18th century and Mexico and Florida in the 19th century. India remains the world's largest mango producer. There are over 400 varieties of mango throughout the world.
The two most widely available varieties are 'Kent' - a green fruit with a red blush and a rich, sweet flavor and 'Keitt' - a green mango with a non fibrous flesh and a mild, sweet flavor. The mango belongs to the family Anacardiaceous in the genus Mangifera, the cashew family of flowering plants; other species include the pistachio tree and poison ivy. The family consists of 41 species of which the mango (Mangifera indica) is the most important. The mango tree is an evergreen medium to large tree. It has a long tap-root up to 6 m in depth and dense mass of feeding roots just beneath the soil surface. Mango tree forms new leaves are in periodic flushes about two to three times a year. In mature trees the first flush during the dry season is usually transformed into a flower flush.
The mango is successfully cultivated under conditions which vary from very hot, very humid to cool and dry, to very hot and arid. It is advised that the average temperature during winter should preferably be above 5 Celsius. For optimum growth, and production, the average maximum temperature should be between 27 and 36 celcius. Mangoes will grow in areas with an average annual rainfall of less than 300mm, provided other climatic conditions are favorable.
Over 20 million tons of mangoes are grown in the tropics and sub tropics. Mangoes can range from 2 - 10 inches in length. Top mango exporters are India, Pakistan, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Brazil, Israel, South Africa and Peru.
Formed in 2002, the Mango Association is an assembly of growers, marketing co-operatives, importers and distributors engaged in the supply and marketing of mangoes in the UK. The Association is dedicated to the expansion of the mango market in Britain. Its objectives are to raise awareness and increase sales.
South African Mango Growers Association (SAMGA) is a producer association set up to look after the interests of mango farmers in South Africa. It represents about 90% of all mango growers in South Africa. SAMGA is run by a management committee consisting of a chairman, a vice-chairman, a general manager and two serving members. SAMGA's history dates back to the early 1970's, when a forum was established to solve producer problems through research and to facilitate communication between researchers and producers. The body soon began to fund research - which remains SAMGA's main role today. The goal is to more efficiently grow better mangoes through research and to make mango farming more profitable.
In the UK, mangoes outsell fresh pineapples on a weekly basis. To choose a mango gently squeeze the 'nose' of the fruit, if there is slight give then the mango is ripe. Color is not the best indicator of ripeness. A mango stored at 55 celcius will last for up to two weeks.