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Why no commercial mango growers in Florida?

13 years ago

Or, I should say, why can I not buy Florida mangoes at the store? And why do I always have to buy South American or Indian mangoes?

I have seen the wonderful collection of mango trees that Harry and others in Florida have. Why do farmers not take up mango production so that some of it reaches the marketplace nationally? I have bought Coachella valley grown Organic Keitts at my local farmers market and Whole foods for $4 per mango when they are available for a couple of months a year. They are HUGE and flavorful and amazingly sweet (but the price makes me guilty to buy a lot). Why can't there be more mango production domestically? I would love to eat more american grown mangoes!!!

Comments (25)

  • 13 years ago

    Great question, I wonder if it has anything to do with the occasional hurricane or the occasional strong frost that makes the commercial production of mangoes in Florida too risky for people to invest in.

    I believe I remember reading that Harry had a less than optimal Mango harvest this year and this is Harry, the king of tropical fruit in Florida.

  • 13 years ago

    Commercial mango production in Florida was once a promising industry. Hurricanes did destroy many of the groves, but the main reason for its demise was production from other, less developed, less expensive areas of the world. Here's an old article, from the late 60's, I think, that addresses some of the thinking. In the last 40 years, the local grower just has not been able to compete, price-wise, with mangoes grown in Mexico, Central America, etc.

    Harry

    Here is a link that might be useful: Florida Horticultural Society...FL Commercial Mangoes

  • 13 years ago

    budershank, if you would please share, we will make it worth your while :) There are millions of $$ to be made from locally grown mangoes. BTW, here are a couple of links to the Coachella grown expensive organic mangoes that I buy every years.
    News Story about California mango groves

    Organic Keitts from Coachella

  • 13 years ago

    Ashley, I only own two dinky mango trees at the moment =(. THis mango season i basically mooched off of my friends who were overloaded.

    WE have some local growers nearby who sell their fruits at 10 for 7 bucks.

  • 13 years ago

    Harry is right. There is just no market for Florida mango growers. I have a friend who is a commercial mango grower in Florida and I've also been to about 5 commercial mango groves and they all say the same thing about not being able to compete with Mexican and South American mangos. The same thing has happened to Fl grown jackfruit and is happening to FL grown lychees.

    Another problem i've seen at many of the commercial groves is that many are still only growing Tommy Atkins and Keitt. I think If they expanded the varieties and marketed better like the apple industry once did they would be able to prosper. A few groves are starting to top work or replant older trees to better varieties but its not as large scale as it should be. FL sucks at marketing its fruits. No where as good as California.

  • 13 years ago

    There are still commercial mango farms in Florida (though their size varies)....there's one out north of Pahokee on the lake....another in Lantana, several down in the Homestead area, a few more in southwest Florida and some on Merritt Island.

    As Harry said, it was once a promising industry but there proved to be too many problems:

    1. Foreign competition. Labor is just way cheaper in Latin America. This is without a doubt reason #1

    2. The state is very hurricane/tropical storm prone....Hurricane Andrew wiped out about half the commercial mango acreage in Florida and it has never recovered to the level it was prior to 1992.

    3. The climate is not exactly ideal for growing mangoes. There is an invisible line that runs through the state north of which mangoes just can't be grown cost effectively. But even south Florida is susceptible to weather colder-than-ideal for mangoes, as this last winter demonstrated.

    As an addition to #3, the humidity here is also a major problem as fungus has to be controlled, and growers end up having to spend large quantities on spraying programs to get commercially acceptable crops.

    4. Lack of consumer knowledge....while most of us have an idea of what a good quality mango tastes like, the vast majority of Americans do not. When all that you have available to you is some immature picked, import boiled, awful Tommy Atkins, your perception of mangoes is often different from people who have been exposed to different varieties that have been locally picked. Many of the varieties grown in Florida are not grown on large scales in exporting countries....but most consumers don't even realize that these varieties exist.

    5. poor marketing.....a lot of older growers do not promote/advertise their product well. Many don't have websites or are not internet savvy....there is a market for shipping mangoes domestically that they don't tap into as well as others.

    All that said, I believe there is some hope. The commercial mango industry in Florida might be very small, even microscopic compared to its foreign competition, but its not dead either and there are ways it can improve its current situation.

  • 13 years ago

    foreign Countries are very attractive to commercial tropical fruit growers. its where the term Banana Republic comes from.

    The Banana massacre, in Spanish, Matanza de las bananeras or Masacre de las bananeras was a massacre of workers for the United Fruit Company that occurred on December 6, 1928 in the town of Ciénaga near Santa Marta, Colombia. An unknown number of workers died after the government decided to send the military forces to end a month-long strike organized by the workers' union in order to secure better working conditions.

    heres a good read:


    from Barnes and Noble
    In this gripping exploration of corporate manuevering and subterfuge, Peter Chapman shows how the importer United Fruit set the precedent for the institutionalized power and influence of today's multinational companies. Bananas! is a sharp and lively account of the rise and fall of this infamous company, arguably the most controversial global corporation ever  from the jungles of Costa Rica to the dramatic suicide of its CEO, who leapt from an office on the forty-fourth floor of the Pan Am building in New York City. From the marketing of the banana as the first fast food, to the companyÂs involvement in an invasion of Honduras, the Bay of Pigs crisis, and a bloody coup in Guatemala, Chapman weaves a dramatic tale of big business, political deceit, and outright violence to show how one company wreaked havoc in the "banana republics" of Central America, and how terrifyingly similar the age of United Fruit is to our age of rapid globalization.

    because of monoculture they also produced awesome things like Panama disease which many believe has put dessert bananas on a crash course with extinction.

    but hey we got cheap bananas

    Here is a link that might be useful: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Fruit_Company

  • 13 years ago

    There is also a really chilling depiction of that massacre in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's magical realist novel 'One Hundred Years Of Solitude.' It really, really bothers me that the limited soil, water, and land of really poor countries full of starving people is used up to export terrible tasting, chemical-laden fruit grown with slave labor. And then it destroys local industry of people trying to grow real food here. Whenever I see dole bananas or mexican mangoes here in Hawaii, I want to smash them; we have real bananas and mangoes here; a wide variety of beautiful, delicious fruit; why should our farmers be ripped off by "free trade?"

  • 13 years ago

    Florida also had a thriving pineapple industry back in the day.

    Those California grown mangoes were even for sale up here at Super WalMart of all places...

    I've noticed Mexico is growing everything these days. Even peaches, strawberries, etc...things i never knew they grew. Its the labor, land costs and the climate.

    When you think about it, if you have water, you could turn a desert into a garden.

  • 13 years ago

    i wouldd pay double for a local Keitt over a Mexican grown, under ripe picked and shipped Keitt.

    there is a definite difference, theres a reason why they say buy local.

  • 13 years ago

    Fairchild farm has a research facility that in the Redlands with a little store that sells fruits and other mostly from their avocado groves and a partner USDA farm that grows the different cultivars of mango the researchers bring from around the world. It does not solve the problem of limited local agriculture but it is a great place to find varieties of mangoes that you would never find elsewhere and that come from all around the world. This is a must stop if you are within a 100 miles of the Redlands in mango season. There hours are on their website. Search for Fairchild Gardens.

  • 13 years ago

    There is some commercial mango production in Florida, but the growers are generally small and focus on the local markets. The area south of Miami around Homestead has quite a few farms and Pine Island near Fort Myers has quite a few mango farms. I'm about an hour from Pine Island, so I visit the farms regularly. The farms are generally 2 to 25 acres in size. They grow dozens of varieties of Florida, Indian and Thai mangos. The quality is superb. Pine Island has a local Mango Mania festival to celebrate the mango harvest. We go to Pine Island (Bokeelia) and buy the mangos directly from the farmers on the weekends. One of the best things about living in Southwest Florida in the summer!

  • 8 years ago

    I grow and sell mangos in Florida. Call or text me 7819011056 they are ready now, huge and delicious. Mostly hadens and Tommy Atkins.

  • 8 years ago

    There are some commercial growers left with some large growers. With the Citrus greening disease decimating the trees I would imagine the growers are looking to other types of trees.

    Check out Erickson Farms. http://www.ericksonfarm.com/

    All the grocery store fruit seems to be imported, we are lucky to have a local produce stand that carries a variety of local grown.

  • 8 years ago

    we are lucky to have a local produce stand that carries a variety of local grown.

    Where is that, please, tcgardener? Rorabeck's, Barbour, et al only seem to have imports.

  • 8 years ago

    Country Club produce is in Stuart, on Dixie in the same center as Importico bakery. Close to the Yacht & Country Club. Ronnie carries produce from palm city farmers when it is in season plus all the usual import stuff.

    Importico is a nice hometown bakery too.


  • 8 years ago

    Thanks! I know they have local eggplant sometimes, but didn't know about mangos.

  • 7 years ago

    Mangoes, 35 species available at our farm on bokeelia fl. Nicefields mango mansion and farm. 239-785-0725. By appointment thank you!!!!

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    On the other hand, a good portion of the fresh Lychees being sold in America are grown in Florida (although it's an overall small market). Fresh lychees don't last very long in storage and need to be immediately refrigerated, so growing them in the U.S. has an advantage because the logistics make it easier to get to market faster. As much as America has difficulty competing with cheap labor costs in the Third World, one of the things America has going for it is a better infrastructure system.

    Also lychees appreciate a tiny amount of Winter chill, helps them be more productive later, so Florida really has an ideal climate.

    If you go to your local supermarket and pay close attention to the labels, you may have noticed that a lot of the fruit is not grown in America anymore. Like squam256 stated, it is because of cheaper labor costs in other parts of the world. A lot of the fruit is grown in Mexico or Chile.

    Of course it makes sense to import bananas and coconuts from countries closer to the equator, these fruits grow much better in tropical climates. But when the U.S. is importing apples and berries from Third World countries to line the shelves of supermarket produce sections, one realizes how much domestic American farm production has been decimated by cheap foreign imports. Of course, when you import fruit from other countries it takes longer to get here, so usually is not quite as fresh and does not taste as good. But rather than demanding more locally grown fruit, the reaction from American consumers seems to be avoiding the produce section altogether! From the perspective of the average consumer, fruit just does not seem to taste as enticing as it once did, and they can't be bothered to worry about why. Fruit consumption as a whole is suffering.

  • 7 years ago

    I just bought a Haden (or Keitt,same id number) for 48 cents yesterday. It made me wonder who could make a living growing them?

    I wonder if Ashley is still growing Mangoes in San Jose?

  • 7 years ago

    I know a grower in West Palm who has some 40 very old trees who sells commercially, I think mostly to local markets.

  • 3 years ago

    There are plenty of mango growers in Florida especially south Florida there is also Nicks Island farms in Merritt. Now many of those mangoes are expensive but totally delicious. I live in Orlando and grow a few varieties o_O have Carrie, Glenn, Valencia Pride and am developing,new varieties.

  • last year
    last modified: last year

    Yes,there are plenty of mangos in Florida. I personally own a Tommy Atkins orchard and sadly they are rotting away while our supermarket chain keeps importing. What happened to America First.


  • last year

    We have a mango tree on Venice Island that produced 300 mangos even after the hurricane. Have a honor system pick your own for 50 cents each. They are like eating a spoonful of sugar.