Best Bets for HLB-Tolerant Citrus

Josh McGill Varieties

B9-65 Valencia received much attention from horticulturist John Chater during a virtual meeting highlighting HLB-tolerant citrus varieties developed by the Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC) Plant Improvement Team. Chater is an assistant professor at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences CREC.

B9-65 Valencia had the best yield and soluble solids in a trial comparing 30 varieties.

According to Chater, pound solids per acre and yield per acre are the most important traits for juice oranges. Those are characteristics in which B9-65 Valencia excelled among HLB-tolerant varieties. Chater said the variety was the best of 30 selections for yield and soluble solids in a long-running trial. B9-65 Valencia has been planted in Florida groves and is available for growers.

Other juice oranges showing promise for HLB tolerance are the N13-32 Hamlin and OLL-4, OLL-8 and OLL-20.

N13-32 Hamlin offers improved juice color and good soluble solids content.

HLB-tolerant mandarins that Chater highlighted were:

  • Sugar Belle, which has Minneola-like flavor and good crop loads. Soft fruit has become a problem in South and Central Florida, but not in North Florida.
  • Gator Bites has excellent flavor, matures late and is a nearly seedless and easy-peel fruit for the fresh market.
  • Marathon is seedless and easy to peel, with good color, flavor and segment structure. It is very early maturing and has long on-tree storage capacity.
  • Bingo is an easy-to-peel fruit with excellent flavor.

Chater posed the question, “How do you know if a selection is HLB tolerant?” He said that is a very difficult question “that takes years and a lot of money and resources to answer … It takes many trees, many years, multiple sites, excellent caretaking and lots of data to know something about tolerance.” He said some experts have told him it can take up to eight years to determine that a tree is truly tolerant of HLB.

Multi-county citrus Extension agent Mongi Zekri hosted Chater’s Oct. 18 presentation. 

About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large

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