Old Variety Gets a New Look

Josh McGillAll In For Citrus Podcast, Varieties

The Parson Brown is an early-season sweet orange that J.L. Carney identified in 1875. By the 1920s, the variety had become a popular cultivar among growers, but eventually plantings declined as Hamlin became the go-to selection for the early season.

Parson Brown

However, because of its apparent tolerance to HLB, Parson Brown is again stirring interest among growers. Manjul Dutt, assistant professor of horticultural sciences with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), discusses the variety in the latest episode of the All In For Citrus podcast.

Dutt said one of the main factors that led to Parson Brown falling out of favor with growers and juice processors was its higher oil content in the peel and fruit. But in the era of HLB, the industry will happily manage around the oil content in return for higher production, which is being seen in some existing groves.

The Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) funded Dutt to study Parson Brown. “The funding from CRDF allowed us to look at the variety from Polk to Collier counties,” Dutt said. “These were groves that mainly had been planted from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s. So, we are looking at trees that have survived HLB and are 30 to 35 years of age. The findings that we saw were that Parson Browns, irrespective of location and rootstock, were more tolerant to HLB.”

In December, CRDF funded a second round of Parson Brown study, which will dive deeper into the variety’s performance against the disease. Dutt discusses this further in the podcast. Listen to his report in the January 2023 All In For Citrus episode. The podcast is a joint partnership between UF/IFAS and AgNet Media.

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