Breeders Discuss Favored Citrus Varieties

Ernie NeffVarieties

Sugar Belle®

Fred Gmitter and Jude Grosser discuss some relatively new varieties they like – a mandarin, some oranges and a pummelo-grapefruit hybrid. Gmitter and Grosser are University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) plant breeders at the Citrus Research and Education Center.

“Looking at Sugar Belle® and its performance against citrus greening, it’s clearly one of the most tolerant varieties that we know,” Gmitter says. “It produces very good quality fruit in spite of being infected with the disease.”

Gmitter says “a fair amount” of Sugar Belle® has been planted in recent years, and that “some growers are becoming concerned that perhaps there’s too much of it in the ground.” He says some wonder “whether we can move all the fruit that’s going to be produced in the next few years into that fresh market.”


To address that concern, researchers are trying to determine if some of the Sugar Belle® production could be used in orange juice. Gmitter says consumer focus groups have found that juice containing some Sugar Belle® is preferable to orange juice from the supermarket. Learn more about the potential for using Sugar Belle® in orange juice.

Grosser says the sweet orange varieties OLL-8 and OLL-4 “have both fresh market and very strong processing potential.” He says researchers are “really excited” about the more recently released OLL-20 because it has great flavor and high pound solids.

OLLs are “slightly more greening tolerant than Valencias,” Grosser says. He adds that the OLL trees are larger than Valencia trees, so they can produce more fruit.


The UF-914 pummelo-grapefruit hybrid is delicious and smells and tastes like grapefruit, Gmitter says. In a focus group, even “grapefruit haters” liked UF-914. “Grapefruit lovers” also liked it.

This interview with Gmitter and Grosser is featured in the October All In For Citrus podcast, a joint project of UF/IFAS and AgNet Media. Listen to the full podcast here.

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About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large