Lenticels are macroscopic openings on the skin of mango fruit. They are
necessary for gas exchange and transpiration of the fruit. Lenticel
discolouration is however a major problem, which affects the mango industry
worldwide and it influences the value of the fruit on the market. Cultivars
differ in the structure of these lenticels which makes them more or less
susceptible for damage. There are several factors, which cause lenticel damage,
some of which are fruit inherent and cannot be changed and others which are
external and can be altered. Research in this project is aimed to reduce
lenticel discolouration by adapting management practices in the orchard and
In order to achieve this the industry relies on only five commercial cultivars,
namely Tommy Atkins, Keitt, Kent, Sensation and Heidi. None of these cultivars are ideally suited to the South African growing
conditions and have serious shortcomings, e.g. susceptibility to bacterial
blackspot in ‘Kent’ and ‘Keitt’ , physiological problems in ‘Tommy Atkins’ and
‘Sensation’ and poor bearing of ‘Heidi’ . The mango industry therefore, is in
urgent need of new mango cultivars adapted to the local conditions. With this in
mind a comprehensive breeding programme was started by the ARC – ITSC in 1990.
Promising selections from this programme planted from 1992 to 2005 are being
evaluated in trials with known control cultivars at Nelspruit and Malelane. Two
cultivars, Joa and Chené, were released from the breeding program in 1996.
Another cultivar, Crimson Pride, was released during 2005 whilst application for
Plant Breeder’s Rights were also filed for four other selections. This is a
project with a lot of potential. The ARC-ITSC competes with other organisations
within South Africa regarding the placing of new mango cultivars on the market.
However, the ARC-ITSC has the largest breeding projects with the largest number
of promising selections.