Citrus Variety Pipeline Full Of Potential
Citrus Nursery Source has highlighted the availability of new varieties in past articles. Since many growers rely on their citrus nursery for updates and guidance on varieties, often including advice on planting decisions, it is imperative that nurseries remain current. Here’s the latest information on new varieties generating the most interest.
US Early Pride Tangerine
The US Early Pride Tangerine is an early season (nearly seedless) variant of the venerable Fallglo. As previously reported, a patent was filed by USDA’s Office of Technology Transfer. This variety will be managed by New Varieties Development & Management Corp. (NVDMC) in a coordinated program with the other citrus producing states. NVDMC has received a draft license agreement for the US Early Pride and is working toward a final version. Once a final license is signed, NVDMC will work quickly to update nursery licenses and inform interested growers of the next steps. In the meantime, USDA is evaluating the need for pollinators with US Early Pride. More information should be available on this to coincide with the availability of license agreement. Nurseries licensed to increase budwood and provide trial propagations include Rasnake Citrus Nursery, Phillip Rucks Citrus Nursery, Southern Citrus Nursery, and Southridge Citrus Nursery.
Tango is a very low-seeded, easy peel December to January tangerine licensed to NVDMC by the University of California-Riverside. Early Florida Tango plantings are bearing fruit and are generating a lot of excitement. Budwood availability is rapidly increasing at participating nurseries, as well as at DPI. Nursery contracts are available for nurseries not currently involved. License agreements and royalties apply. Contact NVDMC for information. This variety is naturally attractive to tangerine growers but also is proving to be an irresistible curiosity to round orange and grapefruit growers. Nurseries currently licensed to increase budwood and propagate Tango include Harris Citrus Nursery, Rasnake Citrus Nursery, Philmon Citrus Nursery, Phillip Rucks Citrus Nursery, and Southern Citrus Nursery.
Sugar Belle is a December specialty variety packed both commercially and within the roadside and gift segments. The Sugar Belle also is available to homeowners through a dooryard agreement. Sugar Belle is licensed to NVDMC by Florida Foundation Seed Producers (FFSP). Ample budwood is available for nurseries through DPI. Participating nurseries have developed internal supplies of budwood. Sugar Belle fits a similar window as Minneola, but matures about a month earlier. Its strength is its superior flavor and attractive appearance. Nurseries with customers interested in the specialty market should contact NVDMC. Growers can plant trials or commercial plantings. Currently licensed nurseries include Harris Citrus Nursery, Phillip Rucks Citrus Nursery, and Southern Citrus Nursery.
Valquarius is licensed to NVDMC by FFSP. The Valquarius produces March Valencia quality in January and is available for trial or commercial plantings. License agreements are available for nurseries and growers. A modest tree fee applies. The Valquarius is equally or more productive than standard Valencia. The thorns that were observed on young trees are now being diminished through the availability of budwood from more mature sources. The Valquarius is viewed as a likely candidate for mechanical harvesting, as the harvest will precede the bloom. Minimally, it makes sense for nurseries to be licensed for budwood increase and propagations. Phillip Rucks Citrus Nursery is currently licensed.
California Seedless Tangerines
The Citrus Nursery Source article titled “Trial and Error” (February 2011, page 32) highlighted the availability of the Shasta Gold, Tahoe Gold, Yosemite Gold, and Gold Nugget. All are seedless tangerines licensed to NVDMC for trial and possible later commercial plantings through University of California–Riverside. Trial plantings are in the Ridge and Indian River production areas. Shasta Gold and Gold Nugget produced their first fruit this year on very small trees. Though small quantities of fruit from young trees do not provide enough information to accurately gauge the utility of these varieties in Florida, the sample harvest did lead to more requests for trial contracts. Due to mixed reports of Alternaria susceptibility on Shasta, Yosemite, and Tahoe, growers want to make their own observations. Gold Nugget is not expected to have Alternaria issues. License agreements remain available to nurseries for budwood increase and trial propagations. Licensed growers can plant up to 10 trees of each. Should any of these prove commercially acceptable, nurseries in the fresh fruit market will want to have budwood on hand. Currently, Rasnake Citrus Nursery and Phillip Rucks Citrus Nursery are licensed.
Scarlet Mandarin (Thoro Temple)
This is a seedless or low-seeded variation of Temple that is public domain and available with no contract. We now have fruit from two years harvest, though small quantities. Most have been seedless but have seen up to four seeds in some. Fruit size appears slightly smaller than Temple. Fruit peels, though it’s not a zipper skin. This variety boasts Temple flavor. Productivity appears low. There is a need for growers to figure out how to set more fruit. Nurseries can request budwood from DPI.
This is a fruit of an unusual appearance with a pronounced neck. It is considered by many to be one of the most flavorful citrus in the world. NVDMC receives frequent inquiries about this variety. Some trees are in Florida and fruiting. Trees appear to produce erratically for several years before settling down. The jury is still out on this variety. There are no conclusions whether it is conducive to Florida’s climate. Nurseries can request budwood from DPI if growers want to conduct their own trials. Dekopon is a Kiyomi x Ponkan cross developed in Japan in 1972. It is now being produced in California under a different market name.