Fresh Citrus Variety Options for Florida

Ernie NeffVarieties

variety
UF 914

University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) plant breeder Fred Gmitter discussed potential fresh fruit variety options for Florida growers in a July 14 virtual presentation. Gmitter focused on releases made by breeders at UF/IFAS’ Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred.

mandarin
Sugar Belle

SUGAR BELLE
Gmitter said the Sugar Belle mandarin hybrid has high tolerance for HLB. This variety’s harvest period is compressed to three to four weeks. According to Gmitter, 2020 was a bad year for Sugar Belle quality. He said he wondered if climate change might harm the quality of all citrus varieties in the future.

Bingo

BINGO
Bingo, a mandarin, matures very early and is attractive, easy to peel and always seedless. A slide Gmitter showed stated that the fruit offers a “superb eating experience.”

Bingo has good HLB tolerance but comes with tree establishment and dieback challenges, Gmitter said. The variety also has cropping challenges with fruit set and size, splitting and fruit drop. The fruit needs to be clipped, which is a harvesting challenge.  

mandarin
Marathon

MARATHON
Marathon mandarin fruit matures early and is attractive, peels fairly easily, is always seedless and has good quality, Gmitter said. It has a longer harvest season than Bingo; it can hold into December.

The tree has good HLB tolerance, and fruit clipping is likely not required. There is no long-term grower experience with Marathon, Gmitter said.

UF 950

UF 950
UF 950 mandarin is easy to peel, seedless and convenient to eat. It is the same size as Clementine, but has better color and flavor than Clementine.

UF 950 is HLB tolerant. Fruit quality under HLB conditions can be compromised, but quality is still acceptable, Gmitter said. The fruit matures in December.

UF 914
The UF 914 pummelo-grapefruit hybrid has grapefruit size, flavor and aroma, but is sweeter than grapefruit, Gmitter said. A focus group study showed that “grapefruit haters” liked UF 914.

A slide near the end of Gmitter’s presentation stated, “As with any financial investment, individuals should determine their own risk tolerance and balance this with potential rewards.”

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About the Author
Ernie Neff

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large