The Time Is Now to Plant a Future for Florida Citrus

The Time Is Now to Plant a Future for Florida Citrus

Joe Citrus Farmer cartoon illustration

Any citrus growers wishing to trial new varieties can develop a plan and Materials Transfer Agreement (MTA), which will subsequently be handled by Florida Foundation Seed Producers Inc. The propagating nursery also will be required to sign an MTA.
Illustration by Wally Edwards

New, fresh, and processed selections soon will be available for Florida growers to plant under experimental agreements. These selections are new and have not been widely planted. Limited information is available, but as more data is being collected, growers will have the opportunity to plant trees for observation and to play a part in determining their future potential.

Dr. Jude Grosser, a UF/IFAS Professor in citrus breeding and genetics at the Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred, is seeking growers to partner in the field trial of 17 orange varieties.

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Most of these are late-maturing selections. The list includes 10 unique Valencia clones, all of which are high yield and high solids. Some of the Valencia clones are from standard Valencia and some are from ‘Rhode Red.’ The list also features two ‘Vernia’ clones, one of which is slightly earlier maturing than standard ‘Vernia,’ and the other appears to have useful HLB tolerance. Finally, there are five new OLL (‘Orie Lee Late’) oranges that are high yielding with high solids.

All these oranges showed promise in advanced trials (mostly made with second-generation trees). Any growers wishing to trial these can contact Grosser at 863-965-1151 to develop a trial plan and Materials Transfer Agreement (MTA), which will subsequently be handled by Florida Foundation Seed Producers Inc. The propagating nursery also will be required to sign an MTA.

In addition to the opportunity to trial the 17 true orange varieties, the seedless Hamlin-like triploid hybrid (that is 1/8 trifoliate), from which juice was made at the December UF/IFAS new variety display, also is available for trial. This selection produces fruit with a rich-colored flesh with very high Brix and can be harvested in the Hamlin time window. The flavorful juice was a hit at the gathering.

A Fresh-Market Opportunity
New Varieties Development & Management Corporation (NVDMC) has been licensed by USDA-ARS to offer a new tangerine/mandarin selection for trial. Those who attended the Dec.13, 2018 Field Day and variety display got to experience this and other selections first-hand. We are not including photos, parentage, or the selection number in order to preserve its patentability.

New Tangerine/Mandarin Maturity
December – January

Peelability
Easy peeler

Picking
Not a bad plugger. Most likely able to snap pick.

Peel Color
Dark/bright orange

Size
Toward the small size of the range of easy peelers found in retail grocery — but many things trended small this year. In the past, it has been in the 150 to 210 range.

Flesh Color
Dark orange

Flavor
Excellent. This is its best quality.

Seeds
Low seeded. Estimates are that it will meet the low-seeded standard in Florida Department of Citrus rule.

HLB/Canker
An irradiated selection of another high-quality tangerine type. Both the original tree and the irradiated version appear to be doing ok in field. It is too early to draw definitive conclusions on HLB. Canker lesions have been found on leaves but none observed on fruit.

Pollination
Variety appears to be parthenocarpic. Trees will fruit in greenhouse. It does not appear to require cross-pollination to set fruit but work is ongoing.

Cold Tolerance
Not well known, but it has done well in a relatively cold area of Lake County.

Budwood
Two citrus nurseries have been increasing budwood of this selection and should be able to make limited propagations this spring.

How to Get Started
Interested growers can contact the NVDMC office at 321-214-5214, [email protected], or Lucy Nieves at [email protected].