Exciting time ahead for red flesh early mandarin

Aug. 13, 2022 | 5 Min read
Field day helped growers acquire technical expertise sooner for fruit production, processing, and retailing of mandarins.

Early Sicily is one of the many natural hybrid varieties created for the seedless red-flesh mandarin category from CREA (Citrus Breeding Institute) in Italy.

For Australian growers speculating on success by committing to some early significant plantings of the Early Sicily mandarin, these are now approaching the stage where some pre-commercial volumes will reach the market this season.

ANFIC industry development officer, Tony Filippi said his has created genuine excitement within this group, and it also recognised the need to start organising the harvest to marketing structure now – and not when significant volumes arrive in two to three years’ time.

“Significant volumes are expected from current plantings in the Riverland of South Australia and Murray Valley in Victoria over the next two to three years.

“What is unique about this variety, apart from the seedlessness, early season maturity and being sweet and juicy with excellent flavour, is the red flesh (anthocyanin) characteristics found in blood orange when placed under cool storage,” he said.

“This provides longer marketing windows to suit changing consumer preferences.”

Horticulture Fresh Australia (HFA), under its parent company ANFIC (Australian Nurserymen’s Fruit Improvement Company), have been working with growers to ensure the coordination of the entire supply chain.

This extends from growing to promotion and marketing across all of their Early Sicily stakeholders since the variety’s release from plant quarantine 18 years ago.

To coincide with the oncoming pre-commercial harvest for this season, a technical field day was recently held in Loxton, South Australia. Attending the day were the Italian variety breeders from Sicily, Marco Caruso and Giuseppe Russo; citrus growers, including prospective growers; licensed processer/packers; marketers and exporters. 

The theme of the day was to learn more about how to grow the variety, but also to stimulate discussion amongst the stakeholders on their expectations for the Early Sicily fruit and how to meet the challenges ahead for the coordinated fruit quality marketing strategy throughout the supply chain.

Mr Filippi said the day provided an opportunity to visit orchards to see best practice with newly planted trees, rootstock selection for certain soil types and to see fruit on trees from a top-worked pre-commercial block which promotes earlier fruit bearing under commercial conditions.

The field day was aimed at helping growers acquire technical expertise sooner for fruit production, processing, and retailing.

To complement the technical field day, a workshop was hosted by HFA/ANFIC, where open and confidential discussions could take place between growers, packers and marketers to share their thoughts on the best approach for premium and sustainable returns for all stakeholders in the new variety.

Currently the Early Sicily variety performance is very promising, and the site selection choices have appeared to work favourably, where growers in the program have tried to ensure rootstock selection matches soil types and growth patterns to achieve desired marketable attributes.

To show HFA’s commitment to the success of the program, it is currently running the second year of a three-year post-harvest research trial, to provide key information on cultural practice strategies, which will ensure high quality fruit will reach the consumer for economic and sustainable returns to the grower.

Early Sicily (C1867) is managed in Australia by ANFIC under Plant Breeders Rights protection and is released to growers under a coordinated production/marketing group.

Categories Citrus

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