Red mangoes, a major attraction at Lucknow Aam Mahotsav

Red colored mangoes were a big attraction at Lucknow Aam Mahotsav which ended Thursday at Avadh Shilpgram.

Virtually everyone stopped at the stalls where such varieties of mangoes were on display.

“About three decades ago there were only a handful of these varieties on display, but now there are many,” said Shailendra Rajan, former director of the Central Institute of Subtropical Horticulture in Lucknow ( CISH) and exhibitor of mango varieties for 36 years.

He said that the earlier colored variety of Indian mangoes largely meant a few varieties like Husnara, Vanraj, Surkha, Surkha Verma, Siduriya and Mussarat Shah and these were mainly displayed at mango fairs.

“Now there are about 100 varieties of red colored mangoes in the market like Tommy Atkins, Eldon and Sensation,” he said.

“CISH, Lucknow and the Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI) in New Delhi acquired these varieties from the United States in the 1980s. Plants of these species were distributed by various government agencies and private nurseries, resulting in exotic plantations. These types were also used to create new variants. Colorful hybrids have been created by crossing these exotic mangoes with Indian species such as Amrapali, Dashehari and Alphonso,” Rajan said.

He said varieties like Tommy Atkins and Sensation are not as sweet as other Indian mangoes, but their longer shelf life and attractive color attract many.

“Besides that, their price is also reasonable. As they are in demand, farmers also find these varieties profitable. The biggest advantage is that these mango plants start bearing fruit in just two years,” the mango growers said.

More than 100 varieties

Pusa Arunima, Pusa Pratibha, Pusa Shrestha, Pusa Lalima and Pusa Arunima developed by IARI, Pusa Ambika and Arunika from CISH. Arka Aruna, Arka Anmol, Arka Puneet from ICAR-IIHR (Indian Institute of Horticulture Research), Bangalore, and exotics like Tommy Atkins, Sensation, Oesteen, Lily.

Traditional colored varieties include Husne-Ara, Vanaral, Surkha Matiyara, Nazuk Badan, Yakuti and Gulab Khas.

“Initially, plants of new colored varieties were only available at the institute where these varieties were developed, but due to high demand, plants are now being propagated and made available also in private nurseries. The practice of providing fake varieties under the guise of colored varieties is also widespread,” Rajan said.

Keith P. Plain