field day

Finger Lime Field Day Draws Mostly Non-Citrus Crowd

Daniel CooperEvents, Limes

field day
Finger limes were displayed and available for tasting during the field day.

Only a few Florida commercial citrus growers were on hand for an April 24 finger lime field day at the Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC) in Lake Alfred. Most of the more than 40 attendees did not own citrus groves, and about half were women — definitely not the standard crowd for a CREC event. Those in attendance had varied interests in finger limes. Some were homeowners, and at least one was a vegetable grower interested in an alternative crop.

Lead-off speaker Manjul Dutt, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) assistant professor of horticultural sciences, provided an introduction to the relatively new fruit in Florida. He reported that finger lime, a citrus relative, originated in the rainforests of Australia’s Southeast Queensland and Northern New South Wales. It is a thorny shrub or small tree, and its juice vesicles are globular and likened to caviar.

Dutt provided a current geographical summary of finger lime production:

  • Australia has the most acreage under cultivation.
  • There are small acreages in Asia, Europe and Africa.
  • In the United States, the majority of finger limes are produced in California and Hawaii. In California, they are commercially cultivated by several growers; some have their own product label for export. In Hawaii, finger limes flower and fruit year-long and are harvested frequently; most are consumed in the state. 
  • There is strong interest in finger lime cultivation in Florida, especially in the central and southern parts of the state.

Dutt discussed the characteristics of two UF/IFAS-released varieties – UF SunLime and UF RedLime. He said growers and homeowners can purchase trees in those varieties from Brite Leaf Citrus Nursery, Phillip Rucks Citrus Nursery and Southern Citrus Nurseries

According to Dutt, finger limes can be grown either in pots or in the soil. He added that finger limes are relatively easy to maintain due to their hardiness, but they need cold protection in the initial years after planting.

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Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large

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