Before the mid-1970s, mangoes weren’t considered commercially viable due to their erratic fruit-bearing habits. “It only fruits one month in a whole year,” the Filipino scientist and horticulturist Dr. Ramon C. Barba once recalled in an interview. “And if it fruits well one year, it doesn’t fruit the next year. Even in the regular season, it is erratic.”
Some farmers tried to “smoke the trees”—burn leaves and other materials under the trees—to stimulate flowering. This proved to be not only a tedious practice but a costly one as well. “You have to smoke out a mango tree for two continuous weeks to get results. It was very expensive because you had to burn lots and lots of grass to sustain,” Barba said, describing the process to the Inquirer. Eager to find a way to produce mangoes throughout the year, the scientist took it upon himself to look into the matter closely.

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