Peter Chaires, executive director of the New Varieties Development and Management Corporation, recently spoke at the 2017 Central Florida Fruit Grower Day in Tavares. During his presentation, he discussed findings on specialty varieties from the 2016–2017 season, as well as some miscellaneous varieties catching the eyes of Florida growers.
Chaires said he is seeing a lot of interest in some of the specialty varieties, including Sugar Belle and U.S. Early Pride.
Sugar Belle is a variety that resembles Honeybell. It has done well in consumer studies and commercial production. Due to its strength against HLB, Sugar Belle has gained popularity recently. It has better tree health with HLB compared to other varieties grown in Florida.
U.S. Early Pride is also a standout specialty variety from the 2016–2017 season. Many fruit are seedless, but those that have seeds only have four or less. This variety matures pretty early in the season and is large in size.
Chaires also discussed some miscellaneous varieties that have caught the attention of some Florida growers. Thoro Temple is one such variety gaining traction. It is a low-seeded variety compared to the standard Temple. Its ability to hold up well against disease is creating interest, said Chaires.
Another miscellaneous variety Chaires mentioned was Gold Nugget. Right now, it is unclear how to successfully produce Gold Nugget in Florida or if the variety can even be commercially successful in the state. However, Gold Nugget’s tree durability against citrus greening is generating a lot of interest among growers. “They show symptoms, but they keep right on going,” Chaires said. He added that the fruit quality is good as well. Now, they just need to learn how to produce is successfully.
Chaires said after reviewing the 2016–2017 season, he feels the spectrum of useful varieties is broadening. “(We’re seeing varieties that) not only will grow and hold up well with the presence of HLB if they have a good nutritional program, but also beginning to have things that meet consumer needs as far as easy-peel and seedlessness,” Chaires concluded.
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