Learn How To Extend The Grapefruit Season

Florida citrus breeders recognize the need for an extended grapefruit season. Research has focused on grapefruit and grapefruit-like varieties that can be harvested earlier, without sacrificing aesthetic or eating quality. As with zipper-skin fruit, the selection criteria are rigid. To be successful, a new grapefruit variety must be attractive, productive, have high color, great flavor, and feature a thin peel. Ideally, it would produce fruit roughly comparable in size to existing varieties.

On Display
Seasonal fruit displays, co-hosted by the IFAS Plant Improvement Team and New Varieties Development & Management Corp. (NVDMC), have featured dozens of offspring from research mentioned in this article.
The 2010-2011 IFAS fruit displays have been scheduled for: Oct. 12 (Lake Alfred), Nov. 23 (Lake Alfred), Jan. 4
(Ft. Pierce), Jan. 19 (Florida Citrus Show), and March 1 (Lake Alfred). Those interested in participating, please contact the author at jpchaires@bellsouth.net.

As grapefruit breeding is as difficult as sweet orange, most historic innovations have come from induced mutations or sports discovered in the field. Florida breeders are taking a more systematic approach. This particular article focuses on the efforts of the UF/IFAS Citrus Plant Improvement Team based in Lake Alfred. USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) also includes the extension of Florida’s grapefruit season in its research priorities. The USDA-ARS grapefruit research will be covered separately in a future article to appear here.

Project Grapefruit

Grapefruit development is part of the IFAS triploid citrus breeding program. A primary objective of this research is the extension of Florida’s grapefruit harvesting season (in both directions). Researchers have their eye on the prize: seedless dark-red fleshed grapefruit-like hybrids. In this process, diploid grapefruit and pummelos have been crossed with tetraploid grapefruit to produce seedless offspring. Pummelos are used both for their genetic diversity and their typically lower acid levels. It is hoped these crosses may result in some hybrids with lower acid levels earlier in the season. In the world of grapefruit, lower acid can equate to earlier harvest. The IFAS team also is busy developing new tetraploid grapefruit and pummelo breeding parents for use in future crosses.

Beyond Basics

Though the breeders are looking for hybrids that most resemble grapefruit in texture, flavor, shape, color, and size, this process also will produce selections that belong in an entirely new category of grapefruit-like fruit. Fruit in the latter category might not slot into traditional grapefruit market channels, but may have value to growers and marketers interested in developing niche markets.
 
As an added bonus, some of the pummelo parents used by the IFAS team are naturally low in furanocoumarins (compounds associated with drug interaction issues with grapefruit juice). About half of the progeny from crosses made with these pummelo parents also have been found to be low in these compounds. Furthermore, a few of the pummelo parents used have been identified (through preliminary detached leaf assays) as having greater canker tolerance than grapefruit. The jury is still out on canker tolerance, but early results are interesting.

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Learn How To Extend The Grapefruit Season

  1. My sister,who lives in zone 8, Mississippi,has a pink grapefrit tree about 25 years old. The tree was planted on the South side of her house about 12 feet from her house and has been a strong producer for many years. This past year, the grapefrit were not harvested until July or August, several months past the normal fall harvest time. They continued to grow bigger and sweeter. What a pleasure it has been to have grapefruit almost year round off a single tree! The tree also has some young next season's fruit along with mature fruit hanging. Is this phenomenen normal?

Featured Stories

All Vegetables Stories >All Fruits Stories >All Nuts Stories >All Citrus Stories >

The Latest

Apples & PearsInvasive Pest Found First Time In U.S. At Border Crossi…
October 20, 2014
Moth known to feed on apples, apple buds, leaves, and shoots, is found in a container full of pump valves originating in China. Read More
More Vegetables6 Savory Tomato And Pepper Varieties For Florida Grower…
October 20, 2014
Leading vegetable seed companies highlight a half dozen high-performance selections for producers in the Sunshine State. Read More
CitrusGrowers Need To Take The Ball And Run — Now! [Opi…
October 18, 2014
Help yourself, your farm, and fellow colleagues by becoming more involved in your industry. Read More
CitrusLegendary Florida Citrus Grower And Advocate Passes
October 17, 2014
Joe L. Davis Sr. will be remembered for his straight talk and sage advice. Read More
GrapesNew American Viticultural Area In Northern California E…
October 17, 2014
“Eagle Peak Mendocino County” lies entirely within the North Coast viticultural area. Read More
GrapesMapping Grape Crown Gall Tumor Disease
October 17, 2014
Scientists are close to cracking the disease’s genetic code, a major boon to vineyard protection. Read More
NutsAlmond Growers To Promote Bee Health
October 16, 2014
Almond Board of California announces comprehensive Best Management Practices. Read More
Cucurbits6 Juicy Watermelon Selections For The Sunshine State
October 16, 2014
Leading vegetable seed companies highlight a half dozen high-performance varieties for Florida producers. Read More
CitrusDiversification Is King For Small Farm’s Success
October 16, 2014
Being flexible and adapting to the times critical for Central Florida's Vo-LaSalle Farms. Read More
CitrusAsian Citrus Psyllid Moves Into Northern California
October 15, 2014
First detections made of damaging insect in Santa Clara and San Joaquin counties. Read More
Farm ManagementVidalia Onion Committee Reaches Younger Audience with D…
October 15, 2014
“V is for Vidalia” campaign focused on social and digital media outreach. Read More
VegetablesSakata Seed America To Debut “Tasty 10 By Sakata Coll…
October 15, 2014
The collection includes a new variety and will be launched at the PMA Fresh Summit Oct 17-19. Read More
Insect ControlBagrada Bug Continues To Spread In California’s Brass…
October 15, 2014
The pest is expected to be a problem through December. Read More
Vegetables8 Blazing Hot Pepper Varieties [Slideshow]
October 15, 2014
Check out these 8 hot pepper varieties from the nation’s leading seed breeders and distributors. Read More
NutsKeep In Mind Availability Of Soil Fumigants
October 15, 2014
Almond growers must be aware of restrictions pertaining to soil fumigants prior to replanting. Read More
Food SafetyCalifornia Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement Revises Web…
October 15, 2014
The California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement's revised website provides food safety news and resources. Read More
CitrusScientists Uproot Common “Superweed” Myths
October 15, 2014
A new fact sheet is available that explores the truth behind two fallacies.   Read More
CitrusUF/IFAS Joins In On Specialty Crop Block Grant Bonanza
October 15, 2014
Researchers partnering with FDACS and USDA on 24 separate projects to strengthen the produce market sector. Read More