MIRPUR KHAS: Mirpurkhas district is usually famous for its sweet mangoes, but for the past few years its mango production has been on the decline due to bad weather. However, this year growers are expecting an exceptional mango crop after finding early flowering. “Good flowering in mango trees indicates a healthy outlook for the crop in the District of Mirpurkhas and the surrounding areas, provided it is able to sustain the windstorms that usually strike during April to May”, stated growers.Orchard owners, researchers, and contractors agree that the fruit setting, in full swing, is now in the final stages since temperatures rose in the third week of March – touching 40 degrees Celsius. Water shortage in lower Sindh, however, may pose a threat to the mango crop. A progressive orchard owner, Adnan Dal, suggests that mango orchard owners need to apply potassium in trees for better fruit bearing. The orchard owners must, however, avoid overdosing them with nitrogen which over-ripens the fruit and causes the formation of jelly in the pulp. To avoid this jelly from forming, calcium could be helpful.Orchard owners have secured a better deal from contractors. According to Akbar Sand, landlord of Dolat Laghari, he just gave a contract for the sale of his 74-acre orchard crop for Rs150,000 per acre against last year’s rate of Rs95,000 per acre. Sindh Abadgar Board President Abdul Majeed Nizamani points out that exceptional flowering is being reported across the province and orchard owners just need to manage farms properly to ensure a bumper crop this seasonSimilarly, Sanghar district’s mango orchard owner, Kamran Shah, concluded a deal for his crop on his 16-acre orchard for Rs140,000 per acre against last year’s rate of Rs100,000 an acre. Shah, however, fears that the unavailability of water could result in shedding unripe mangoes in orchards of lower Sindh which is fed by Kotri barrages. Katri barrage is currently experiencing severe water shortages. An early flowering, according to Jogindar Sharma – a reasearcher from the Sindh Agriculture Research department – was witnessed during Dec-Jan. But 70pc flowering was seen in February.About 30pc fruit setting has been witnessed in orchards located in Matiari, Tando Allahyar, Mirpurkhas and Sanghar districts.The initial phase of flowering this year in mango trees was hit by powdery mildew, a fungal disease but according to Sharma, preventive pesticide sprays were sufficient to resolve the problem. The agriculture department’s mango farm in Mirpurkhas was auctioned for Rs2.2m against last year’s figure of Rs1.2m. Better prospects of crop this year are prompting contactors to offer better deals.Mango harvesting will coincide with Ramazan, when Muslims start observing fasting, from the last week of May.Farmer, Imdad Nizamani, believes the chaunsa variety will record a decline this year as it gave good production last year. However, Sindhri is in full bloom with adequate fruit setting, thanks to the extended winter season this year.