LAKE ALFRED, Fla. — As citrus growers, packers, processors, gift-fruit shippers and others taste, feel and smell the latest varieties from UF/IFAS, they hope their taste buds explode with flavor and that a fresh aroma fills the room at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC).
These participants will get two more chances to sample new UF/IFAS citrus for the 2019-2020 season. The sessions are Nov. 14 and Dec. 10, both at 10 a.m., and both at the UF/IFAS CREC, 700 Experiment Station Road, in Lake Alfred.
After they sample the new varieties, growers and others give comments. That feedback helps researchers from the UF/IFAS Plant Improvement Team decide which new varieties will move forward for release to the Florida citrus industry.
“Display attendees represent a wide cross-section of our industry, so we get valuable feedback on all parameters from the grove to the table, allowing us to make more intelligent decisions on which types of citrus get the green light,” said Jude Grosser, professor of citrus breeding and genetics at the UF/IFAS CREC.
The displays will feature some very recently discovered fresh fruit and juice hybrids, some showing fruit for the first time this year, and some from trees showing very good tolerance to huanglongbing (HLB) also known as citrus greening, said Grosser. These include several new mandarin hybrid selections, and many of these will be seedless and easy to peel.
UF/IFAS breeders also will display a few new tasty pink and red grapefruit and grapefruit-like hybrids, some with improved tolerance to greening and canker.
Participants can also taste juice at the displays.
The UF/IFAS CREC breeding team has also been working hard to develop a replacement for the highly HLB-susceptible, Hamlin orange, said Grosser. Display attendees can compare juice of Hamlin with juices of the new early valencias EV-1 and EV-2, and from early-maturing orange-like hybrids showing improved HLB tolerance.
“Fresh fruit varieties generally require more sophisticated management than traditional oranges; any superior selections we can identify that can sustainably produce good yields of high-quality fruit that have good shipping capabilities will be the true winners,” Grosser said.
–Brad Buck, UF/IFAS