Fruit display days are an integral part of the citrus breeding process. The evaluations provided by participants give important feedback on the taste, appearance, texture and overall desirability of the fruit sampled whether it be for juice or the fresh market.
The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) hosted a display on Nov. 14 at the Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred. I was happy to participate in the event, offering up four of my five senses to evaluate the citrus on display. As for my sense of hearing, the fruit didn’t have anything to say, although I’d image something like this: “That was one hell of a storm!”
Hurricanes Ian and Nicole could impact the ability to host future display events this season, so organizers were pleased with the good turnout and the availability of fruit for sampling.
“Ian caused there to be less fruit available in some instances, but it was not as devastating as it could have been for the trees that we sourced the display juice and fresh fruit from. The storm also caused one of our team members to harvest grapefruit on the east coast the night before Nicole hit Fort Pierce,” noted John Chater, UF/IFAS assistant professor of horticultural sciences.
Orange juice, mandarins, grapefruit and a lime were on display for participants to sample and evaluate. Fred Gmitter, UF/IFAS professor of horticultural sciences, said these displays are very important in the advancement of new varieties.
“Nearly every scion variety that we have released from our program has been supported by results from our display days,” Gmitter said. “Of the dozens that have been shown over time, the majority did not find their way to release. Only those highly encouraged by display day visitors have made the cut.”
It is an interesting experience to go through the evaluation process. I tried to give each variety a thorough taste, look, smell and feel. Here are a few that pleased my palate:
- The orange juice blend had a dark color, the texture was just right, and it had great, rich flavor.
- The juice from the new Hamlin clone N13-32 also was a winner, but I’d place it just below the hybrid mix.
- The mandarin 1424 (grown under protective screen) really stood out in terms of flavor and internal flesh appearance.
- Bingo mandarin seems to be worthy competition for California Halos and Cuties from a taste, peeling and appearance perspective.
- RBB-7-34 is a sweet orange-like hybrid with fantastic flavor and texture.
- C4-10-48 and N11-7 grapefruit were both winners on my score card.
During display days, sometimes varieties don’t score as high as their potential due to timing in the season. Some varieties sampled might not be at their peak maturity and flavor potential. That’s why participation in multiple display days throughout the season is necessary for the citrus breeding team.
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