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Can Mangoes Get Sunburn? (Does My Mango Need Sunscreen?)

Can Mangoes Get Sunburn? (Does My Mango Need Sunscreen?)
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Though it may seem kind of silly to think of fruits needing sunscreen, sunburns are a common concern for much more than just people.

Animals, plants, and fruits can all suffer from sunburn. Sunburn impacts fruit-bearing and non-fruiting plants.

All About Mangoes

Mangoes, which originated in South Asia, crossed the tropics and invaded America around 1880. Mangoes are perhaps the most popular fruit in the world today, with India being by far the largest producer.

The mango is a stone fruit, or a drupe, which means it’s made up of one hard seed encircled by delicious fruit. Stone fruits include cherries, peaches, and plums.

Although the precise number of mango varieties is unknown, at least 500, and maybe as many as 1,000, are produced commercially worldwide.

Firmness, color, and size are characteristics of mango varieties offered in the United States. Haden is the most spherical of the varieties, with a bright yellow flesh and a solid structure. Kent mangoes are soft, oval-shaped fruits with a tropical flavor. Tommy Atkins has a similar form as Haden but a milder flavor.

Mango trees are evergreens that can reach 30 to 100 feet tall. Commercial operations will trim mango trees to heights of around 20 feet for easier harvesting.

The mango tree’s fruit is usually hand-picked at the peak of maturity but just a bit unripe so that the fruit will ship more efficiently.

Ripe mangoes are typically orange, red, and yellow. The mango skin will become yellow if grown in a shaded area and red if grown in full sun.

Seed disorders, flesh softening, skin abrasions, and sap burn can all be caused by poor postharvest handling or preharvest techniques.

Pests that threaten mango crops include mites, aphids, thrips, beetles, whiteflies, nematodes, blackflies, and mealybugs.

Diseases that impact mango crops can include scab, wilt, leaf spot, powdery mildew, anthracnose, witch’s broom, verticillium wilt, and stem-end rot.

Benefits of Mangoes

Mangoes aren’t just tasty; they’re also one of the best foods to incorporate into your daily health regimen if you want to boost your overall health and improve your well-being.

When combined with a balanced, nutritious diet and exercise, just one mango each week can help improve your immune system, lower cholesterol, and much more.

Some benefits of mangoes include:

  • Improved digestion and regularity
  • Improved immune system
  • Decreased cholesterol
  • Excellent source of essential minerals and vitamins
  • Improved memory
  • Improved metabolic function
  • Rich in antioxidants

How Do Mangoes Get Sunburned?

If you ever held a magnifying glass over an ant mound, you understand how the rays of the sun can damage a mango.

Mangoes become sunburned when moisture droplets concentrate the intensity of the sun’s rays and cause irreparable damage. The magnification of the sun’s rays on the skin of a mango is referred to as the “lens effect.”

Sun damage to mangoes can also occur if too many leaves are pruned from the trees or lost due to pest infestations or disease.

How to Recognize Sunburned Mangoes

Mango trees become susceptible to sunburn when planted in areas with temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit. High temperatures, intense sunlight, and moisture all combine to cause sun damage in mangoes.

A sunburned mango will have a section, usually the upper portion of the fruit, that is shrunken and dry. The affected part will appear rotten, brown, or tan in color, with a dark ring lining the edges.

A sunburned portion of a mango has, in essence, been cooked by the sun’s rays.

How Can Sunburn Be Prevented in Mangoes?

Choosing to grow a mango variety with ample foliage (leaf) cover can help keep mangoes from being negatively impacted by excessive sunshine. Other non-chemical methods for reducing sun damage include:

  • Control and treat leaf diseases
  • Treat for leaf-destroying insects and other pests
  • Plant trees where direct afternoon sun exposure is limited
  • Prune carefully and infrequently
  • Do not leave harvested, mature mangoes in direct sunlight

For many years, mango growers attempted to protect the growing fruit from sun damage by covering the growing fruit with paper sacks. Unfortunately, rain would cause the bags to collapse and promote the growth of fungal issues and other damaging plant diseases.

More recently, mango farmers have begun using “mango hats” made of plastic and lined with wool impregnated with a fungus-inhibiting copper compound and beneficial bacteria. The wool-lined “mango hats” have significantly reduced sun damage in mangoes without causing any other detrimental issues.

There are also chemical methods that growers can implement to reduce the incidence of sunburn in mangoes. Farmers can apply chemical sunscreens over the entire tree, fruit included, right before the fruit matures to minimize sun damage.

One 2013 study published in the Journal of Applied Sciences Research found that spraying mango trees with a solution containing a 5% concentration of magnesium carbonate or kaolin reduced the negative impacts and fruit loss caused by sun damage. The sprayed chemicals reduced the impact that high temperatures have on the fruit and leaves of the mango tree.

Fun Facts About Mangoes

Impress your friends with these fun facts about the juicy, delicious mango!

  • The mango is the national fruit of three countries: India, the Philippines, and Pakistan.
  • There are more than 43 million tons of mangoes produced annually across the globe.
  • Wild mangoes are thought to have originated in Myanmar and India.
  • The world’s biggest mango was harvested in 2009 in the Philippines. It weighed more than seven pounds and was a foot long!
  • There is a 300-year-old mango tree in Central India that still bears fruit.
  • Buddhists regard the mango tree as sacred.
  • It is believed that the mango is more than 4,000 years old.
  • There are more than 20 distinct minerals and vitamins within a mango.
  • India is the largest producer of mangoes.
  • Though there are more than 500 known mango varieties across the globe, only six are available in the United States. They are the Haden, Ataulfo, Tommy Atkins, Keitt, Kent, and Francis varieties.
  • Tommy Atkins mangoes are primarily produced in Houston, Texas.

Final Thoughts

Though it may seem far-fetched to think that fruit could use a bit of SPF, it’s true. Mangoes can and do sunburn.