Trial And Error
New Varieties Development & Management Corp. (NVDMC) is a grower funded not-for-profit entity whose board is appointed by five citrus industry organizations. NVDMC is performing a valuable, though often invisible service for the Florida grower. In addition to providing variety research grant funding and serving as a central licensing arm for new citrus varieties, NVDMC is tasked with the identification and evaluation of new citrus varieties. NVDMC continually seeks varieties from other production areas that may have utility in Florida. Until now, all of these varieties have been planted in confidential trials, using a combination of private cooperators and an NVDMC managed block. Though confidential trials are beneficial, there is nothing as valuable as trees planted in a commercial setting by an eager grower. If planting and evaluating new mandarin varieties is of interest, this is your lucky day.
The September 2010 Citrus Nursery Source article highlighted the availability of the IFAS Sugar Belle and the University of California Tango. These varieties remain available for license through NVDMC for trial or commercial plantings. Several nurseries are increasing budwood and are positioned to take orders. In addition to Sugar Belle and Tango, NVDMC has four other University of California mandarins available for trial.
These varieties have not been released, but limited quantity of budwood is available for nurseries to start increase trees, and propagate for small scale trials with private growers. The names of these varieties may be familiar, as they have been around for some time in California, and are just starting into international production. All four are seedless tangerine types, and their collective anticipated maturity dates range from November through March.
Tahoe Gold is the earliest of the TDE trio. This is a small/medium sized fruit with deep orange rind color (in California). Its estimated maturity in Florida would be November through December. The tree is fairly thorny, and it does tend to alternate bear (can be controlled with pruning, thinning, and canopy management). Most plantings to date have been mixed, so it is not known whether a pollinizer is needed to set fruit. This fruit does not hold well on tree for extended periods of time. The fruit does have good flavor. It peels “OK,” but not as well as the other two.