Florida releases six citrus cultivars under fast-track program

02/19/2014 11:50:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

Jude GrosserVicky BoydCitrus breeder Jude Grosser conducts an informal taste test of promising cultivars at the Florida Ag Expo.The University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Services has approved 14 new cultivars for release, including six citrus. 

All have sparked high industry interest, according to Kevin Folta, associate professor and chairman of the IFAS horticultural sciences department.

They were approved under the university's Citrus Fast Track Release Option, according to a news release.

Under this program, participating growers and nurseries get to plant the new releases earlier than usual as long as they provide feedback to the breeders.

The program is designed to get plant material into the hands of nurseries and growers 10-15 years sooner than traditional breeding programs.

The citrus cultivars are:

• C4-5-49 (hybrid lemon): A seedless, juicy lemon-like fruit shaped like a tangelo. Its best potential likely lies in niche markets or local production.

• C4-16-12 (sweet orange-like hybrid): A seedless, orange-like hybrid for juice processing. It is potentially tolerant to citrus greening, according to Jude Grosser, citrus breeder and UF professor of plant cell genetics.

• C4-11-19 (pummelo): A delicious red-fleshed fruit for the fresh citrus market. Fruit holds well on the tree, creating a long harvest window.

• N7-4 (pummelo): A very large, attractive fruit with pink flesh and somewhat thinner rind than most pummelos. It’s described as less bitter than grapefruit.

• UKP-1 (pummelo): A delicious red-fleshed sweet fruit for the fresh citrus market. Again,this fruit is less bitter and acidic than grapefruit.

• UFR-17 (rootstock): In experimental trials, trees grafted onto this "tetrazyg" rootstock have shown a reduced frequency of infection from citrus greening and have shown reduced disease symptoms once infected compared with commercial diploid rootstocks.

Plant patent applications will be filed on the cultivars approved for release, and the Florida Foundation Seed Producers Inc. will seek licensees for the released cultivars.

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