The Philippines, being reputed for its abundant tropical fruits, is also home to the world’s sweetest mangoes. In the 1995 Guinness Book of World Records, the Philippine mango was listed as the sweetest fruit in the world defeating other countries that also produce tropical mangoes (Magnifera indica). This citation opened a great opportunity for the country to establish domestic market and bright potential to compete in the world market both in fresh or processed forms.
Currently, mango ranks third among the fruit crops being produced by the country, next to banana and pineapple. The Philippines supplies its mangoes to Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and recently to the United States and Australia. In terms of world production, the Philippines ranks 6th among the top 10 mango producing countries of the world with an average production of 1 million metric tons per year.
Picking the Sweetest Strain
The Philippine mango, i.e. carabao mango, is the country’s export varieties and is considered one of the best variety of mango in the world. Over the years, scientists and researchers have developed different strains of this sweet fruit to continuously improve its export quality. As of now, there are already 10 recommended mango strains for carabao mango registered and recommended by the National Seed Industry Council (NSIC). One of these strains is the Sweet Elena, which was identified as the “sweetest of the sweetest” and the best mango variety in the country today. Sweet Elena was regarded as the sweetest and the biggest mango in the Philippines for three consecutive years by the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI).
Sweet Elena is a new strain of carabao mango that originated in Sta. Cruz, Zambales. Two researchers from the Ramon Magsaysay Technological University, San Marcelino campus (RTMU-SM), Dr. Ester MariÃƒÂ±as and Prof. Remedios Lim, discovered and identified this mango variety.
According to the comparative study conducted, Sweet Elena is proven superior over other four leading mango varieties including Guimaras’ Talaban and Fresco, Ilocos region’s MMSU Gold, and Zambales’ Lamao. Sweet Elena is superior in terms of weight, sweetness, soluble solids, edibility of flesh, and physical appearance.
In terms of weight, Sweet Elena has the highest fruit weight of 357.33 grams, which is 68 grams heavier than that of Talaban, the largest among the mango varieties studied. In terms of sweetness, Sweet Elena is not far from varieties like MMSU Gold and Talaban. It has 18.98 total soluble solids (TSS) compared to MMSU Gold and Fresco which both have 19 TSS. Sweet Elena has 81.61 percent edible portion or flesh and so far the highest among the varieties of mango identified in the country. As to the physical feature, it is attractive with the presence of red tint at the base of the fruit.
Smooth and big on the outside, fleshy and sweet on the inside that’s Sweet Elena for you! Physically, Sweet Elena has exceptionally smooth skin, small seed and has unique reddish color on its base. It weighs 357.33 g and is 13.70 cm long. It is 7.43 wide and 6.32 cm thick making Sweet Elena obviously bigger than most mango varieties. Its ovoid shape also adds to its appeal. Its skin, unlike ordinary mango varieties, is orange. It is also smooth and is about 0.08 mm thick and the skin weighs only 39.58 g Its flesh is 81.61% edible, which means only a little part of Sweet Elena is put into waste.
It has yellow to orange tinge, juicy and has moderate aroma. Its softness and scanty fibers makes it worthy of being the best mango of all. The seed of Sweet Elena is flat, 27.80 g in weight; 9.68 cm long and 3.73 cm wide. Its tree stands 15.3 m tall and bears fruit annually from December to April. This tree yields 100-120 kaings of mangoes every harvest. (MIN Info News, April-June 2003 wherein Sweet Elena was declared the 2002 PINAKA Winner)
Sweet Elena has already been registered with the National Seed Industry Council (NSIC) on 18 October 2002 with the certification of registration awarded to Mrs. Penida Moselina Malabed, owner of the mango tree in Sta. Cruz, Zambales where the Sweet Elena was first identified by RMTU researchers. The study was conducted for three years in coordination with the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI).
The certificate of registration was awarded in 2003 by Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Luis P. Lorenzo during the 2003 Mango Forum. Today, 1.5 ha is planted to Sweet Elena at the RTMU San Marcelino campus to maintain a source of quality planting materials.
Expanding the Sweet Elena
Aside from the 1.5 ha that has been allotted to plant Sweet Elena at the photos by mmojica RTMU San Marcelino campus, some 1, 000 seedlings are also being grown at the DENR-PAWB-Dizon Botanic Fruit Garden, Ninoy Wildlife Parks, Diliman, Quezon City. These seedlings are pest and disease-resistant with superior fruiting quality.
As part of the government’s effort to maintain a gene bank of Zambales’ Sweet Elena, the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) is funding a project on the “Establishment of Scion
Grove and Germplasm Production of Mango (Sweet Elena)” in collaboration with the local government unit (LGU). Also, the establishment of scion grove is done in partnership with farmer stakeholders.
The project is in cooperation with the Central Luzon Integrated Agricultural Research Center (CLIARC) with the Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO) of Zambales and the Municipal Agriculture Office (MAO) of Palauig as implementing agencies. The project was initiated in January 2005 and will last up to December 2008.
The specific objectives of the project include: 1) establish scion grove; 2) produce Sweet Elena grafted seedlings from 2000 to 5000 seedlings; 3) establish one to two nurseries for propagation of Sweet Elena grafted seedlings; and 4) promote Sweet Elena through propagation of grafted seedlings and participation in trade fairs.
The site for this project is in Locloc, Palauig, located at the northern part of Zambales with an elevation of 10-40 meters above sea level. The place is accessible by any type of transportation.
For more information, contact:
Bureau of Agricultural Research
Department of Agriculture
3/F RDMIC Bldg., Visayas Ave.
cor. Elliptical Rd., Diliman Quezon City 1104
Trunklines: 928-8505 or 927-0226
Local Nos. 2043, 2042, 2044
Bureau of Plant Industry
Tel. No. (+632) 525-78-57
source: Rita T. dela Cruz of www.bar.gov.ph