Orie Lee’s contributions to Florida citrus are legend. As he hands off many of his former duties to others in retirement, his legacy runs long and deep in the varieties he cooperatively developed. Some of those contributions have not yet been fully realized in the OLL (Orie Lee Late) varieties, which still are being developed. Jude Grosser, a plant breeder with UF/IFAS, has been working with Lee on the varieties for the past 20 years.
“The new OLL sweet orange selections are outstanding juice oranges, but they also have good fresh market potential,” Grosser says. “The released clones have shown higher yields than standard Valencia, and the juice color usually exceeds that of Rhode Red Valencia.”
Sensory analysis shows the OLL juice flavor is either equivalent to or better than standard Valencia. The released OLL selections mature during the standard Valencia period, but some years harvesting can begin a few weeks earlier. Fruit also holds well into June. For fresh market, the external fruit rind is smooth and more highly colored than Valencia. The OLL fruit also peels a bit easier than Valencia and has a better texture for fresh consumption.
“The OLL selections also seem to respond more strongly to enhanced nutrition, which may help them maintain better productivity after HLB infection,” Grosser adds. “Finally, we have recently selected a new seedling-derived clone (seed recovered from an early maturing mutant fruit) of OLL that matures in January. This selection could provide an improved mid-season sweet orange for the processing and fresh markets.”
Grosser credits Lee’s strong observational skills in spotting the original tree from which the OLL selections were made.
Special thanks to Arysta LifeScience for sponsoring the Citrus Achievement Award.