*?* New Series
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No. 109 ?>
The Mandarin Orange In Florida
WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO TIIK B \ rslMA
Department of Agriculture
I Ml Ml XSSI I H OKIDA
NATHAN MAYO. COMMISSIONER
The Mandarin Orange
WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO THE SATSUMA
Department of Agriculture Tallahassee, Florida
Nathan Mayo, Commissioner
TABLE OF CONTENTS
THE MANDARIN ORANGE
Botanical Classification ....................................... 6
Varieties ....... $
History ...... .......... '
SELECTION OF GROVE SITE 8
Heaters ................ 9
Banking Trees 9
SELECTING TREES 10
STARTING A GROVE .............. U
Soil Preparation ...................................... *1
Setting Trees ........................................................................... 12
CARE OF TREES 12
Culture of Young Trees .......................... ............ I2
Culture of Bearing Trees 13
Pruning ........................................................... 13
ITS USES............................................... 14
T H K M A XI) A KIX OR A X(; K IX FLO K IDA
In 1914. Walter T. Swingle determined that the botanical name. Citrus nobilis, according to the original description should apply only to the King orange, and that this variety was, and is now, the only one representing the species in general cultivation In America. Under deliciosa as a botanical name for a variety of C. nobilis, he placed the mandarin and tangerine oranges, and under I'nshiu he placed the Satsuma orange and its horticultural variations. This disposition is an improvement over the older classifications, and would leave little to be desired if these varieties had 'been raised to specific rank.
The reason for adopting the group-name "Mandarin" Is that it has been longer in us and is probably more widely In use than any other. As used here It is intended to Include the loose-skinned oranges classified under Citrus nobilis, and its botanical varieties. Many have referred to the tangerines a group, or sub-group, distinct and separate from the mandarins. There may be reasons of greater or less weight for this division, but no distinction can be made between the so-called tangerine and mandarin oranges, more than betwren any two distinct varieties of fruits, in recognized pomological groups. In most of the world's citrus-growing districts the two names are uced interchangeable.
Including the two hybrid varieties there are twelve varieties of mandarin oranges. These are the Owari Satsuma, which is the one most commonly grown in Florida, Beauty, China, Cleopatra. Dancy King. Kinneloa. Kino Kuni. Mikado. Oneco. and the two hybrids Tangerona and Temple. Some of these varieties ar3 not raised in Florida to any great extent, and some of them are not raised at all. The two that seem to be the most profitable are the Owari Satsuma and the Dancy. There are 12,000 crea of Florida land planted to the Satsuma alone.
When the satsuma ripens it is yellow, and is from 2 to 3 inches in diameter; oblate in form; rind 1-8 inch thickthicker than tangerine but thinner than King; oil cells large; sections individually enclosed by fibrous covering; flesh deep orange color; juice abundant; acidity and sweetness dilicately balanced; pith open with sections; generally seedless, though from 1 to 4 sxeds are occasionally found. Season October and November.
The tree is thornless. low. and bunchy, rendering the fruit easy to gather. Young trees should be banked in the winter. At present the satsuma is planted in various parts of the state, but for the most part they are grown in an Irregular strip extending from St. Johns county north-westerly to Jackson county and thence in all the Florida counties westward to Alabama; thence along the gulf counties of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. It is the leading orange grown commercially in this belt.
According to all available accounts the mandarin oranges originated in Cochin-China. at an unknown date. From there they have been carried to many parts of the world.
One of the varieties of this group is the Satsuma. There are several types of this variety. Some authorities say that the Satsuma is of Japanese origin. One variety that is the most popular of this strain is the Owari. (There is a province in Japan of the same name.i
No complete history has been kept of these oranges. Many times they have appeared at different places in the world with no explanation as to how they got there. It is known that they existed in Egypt at an early date, and they were introduced into England as early as 1817. They appeared on continental Europe about 1828. The cultivation of mandarin oranges in the vicinity of Genoa dates back to 1849.
Bonavia writes that the mandarin orange was introduced into India from Egypt in about 1847. and that he himself made a second introduction in 1863.
According to the best information which can be secured, the
Chinese mandarin was brought to Louisiana by the Italian consul at New Orleans some time between 1840 and 1850.
The introduction of the first mandarin orange from Louisiana into Florida is credited, by the committee of the Florida Fruit Growers' Association to Major Atway. The exact time of the introduction is not known, but it is believed to have been only a few years after the introduction into Louisiana. The Satsuma vanety was introduced into Florida by George R. Hall in 1876, and again by Mrs. Van Valkenburg in 1878.
At the present date Florida raises more satsumas than any other state, possibly than all of them.
CULTURE OF THE SATSUMA
Satsumas are raised only in northern and western Florida, and not in south Florida. The reason for this is that sweet oranges can be grown in the southern parts, and there is a much greater demand for these oranges than for the satsuma. Consequently, a man anticipating setting out a grove in south Florida will invariably choose the sweet orange n preference to the satsuma, since the orange brings a better price. However, since the Oiange is an evergreen tree it cannot be grown in northern and western Florida because it will freeze in the winter months. It is here that satsumas are raised.
Selection of a Grove Site
A few years ago thousands of acres were planted to satsumas in tne north-western counties of Florida and were doing well, inose which reaenea bearing age were proving to be very profitable. A cold wave which registered 14 degrees below freezing killed a large percentage of them and the industry received a serious backset. With this fact in view we should suggest that anyone contemplating entering the business on a commercial scale should visit the groves that escaped the freeze and study the local surroundings. Protection from frost is one item which must be provided if a success is to be made of this fruit the same as other semi-tropical fruits.
A thick woods, or a large lake on the north side of a grove may save it from freezing. It is also largely a matter of air-drainage as to whether the frost will damage the trees. Contrary to what one might think, a grove on a hill top will escape
when one in a valley will be frozen. The free play of the air and the less humidity renders the hill grove safer than the one between the hills. This was demonstrated in the freeze we have just spoken of.
HeatersThe question of the use of various kinds of heating appliances for satsuma groves has often been a problem to many growers. It is possible that such appliances could be used to advantage, but the growers of Florida do not take any stock in them. Their initial cost is not a little, and they are expensive to operate. Moreover, there may be a period of five or ten years whn they will not be needed. During this time, however, they must be cared for, and they are very troublesome and inconvenient. Therefore, although grove heaters may be desirable during rare cold spells, the majority of the Florida citrus growers are prone to do without them, and take a chance on their groves not being frozen.
Besides protection from frost there are several other important considerations in the selection of a site for a satsuma grove.
SoilsSatsumas will do well on a variety of soils. Those most desirable are the rolling pine lands with a clay subsoil 20 to 30 inches from the surface. This clay subsoil is for the purpose of holding moisture during droughty periods. The land should also be well drained. Plantings made on low wet soils have not been successful; they may start off nicely and look promising for the first few months, but later they turn yellow and quit growing. Nor are sandy oak ridges likely to produce good groves, since such lands are too loose and the trees will suffer from a lack of moisture in dry weather. Particularly should one avoid the poorer types of loose sandy soils, as satsumas will not grow satisfactorily unless the soil is fairly compact and moist.
Banking TreesIt has been found advisable to bank up the earth around the base of young trees for the winter season. These banks should be high enough to be well above the points where the buds were inserted. This should be done in November or December; at the beginning of the cold season. A good quality of dry, clean soil should be used for banking since soil
containing trash might cause injury to the tree trunk by wood lice.
According to reports from satsuma growers, banks should not be made out of heavy clay, since such banks are packed by the tree trunks as a result oi their swaying in the wind. This leaves a space between the tree and the bank into which cold air can settle. Sandy soil will settle around the tree trunks and leave no space for the air. It is a good idea to loosen up this soil with a hoe or rake before a tieeze. Allow the banks to remain until it is time for the sap to rise. Usually by this time the danger of freezing is over. This bankng may save the tree from neezing, and will prevent injury to the bud from irost.
Shipping FacilitiesIt is a decided advantage to have a grove near a railroad line or shipping point. Long hauls are expensive and inconvenient. When citrus fruits are to be shipped in cariots, a packing house is necessary. A properly constructed packing house of fair capacity can serve several hundred acres of groves. An association owning such a packing house can well allord to equip it with the best kind of machinery and supervision, and thereoy the fruit can be marketed to the best advantage. This puts a small isolated grove at a decided disadvantage in marketing its fruit.
SELECTING AND BUYING TREES
BudsThe only kind of satsuma recommended for cultivation in Florida is the Owari, since it is a hardier strain, and a satisfactory bearer. Its fruit is an excellent quality.
StockThere is a worthless orange of the citrus species known as the trifoliata, which is a deciduous tree. It does not grow large, and therefore is not suited to graft the large-tree varieties on. The satsuma is a small growth and will do well on the trifoliata stock. This deciduous stock will not allow the tree to put out buds so early in the spring as the evergreen stocks. The later the sap rises in the spring the safer the tree from the late spring frosts. For this reason they can be grown further north than oher oranges.
Buying TreesIn purchasing young trees it should be re-
membered that Florida still maintains a quarantine against the importation of citrus fruits from outside the stae. This In the past few years the nurseries have been unable to meet quarantine is primarily for protection against citrus canker. In the past few years the nurseries have been unable to meet the large demand for satsuma trees, but they are rapidly increasing their capacity for growing these trees and are preparing to take care of future demands. It is as important for every citrus grower to buy from only reputable concerns as it is for any other business man. Generally he must rely on the honesty of the nurseryman in securing true-to-variety, thrifty, and well-grown trees.
STARTING THE YOUNG GROVE
PlantingThe most advisable time for planting satsumas is in the winter season when the sap is dormant. (December 15 to March 1). They may also be planted during the rainy season in July, but the winter season is decidedly better. The trees should never be planted closer together than 22 teet. The preferred distance is 25 feet each way. This gives 69 trees to the acre. The trees may be planted in several arrangements. The two most common of these are those planted in hexagons and those planted in squares. In some cases the square has a slight preference over the hexagon.
Soil PreparationThe first step in the preparation of the soil is, of course, to thoroughly clear the land, removing all stumps. It should then be ploughed. Very little raw land contains any bacterial life, which is essential to plant growth. For this reason it is advisable to grow some crop like velvet beans or cowpcas on it the year before the trees are to be set out. Almost anything that can be made to grow on the land will improve the soil for the succeeding citrus crop.
Before planting begins the ground should be measured off carefully, and each place where a tree is to be placed should be marked with a stake or other marker. This will insure, first, proper distance between the rows, and second, straight rows, both of which give the grove a better appearance and make it more convenient to cultivate.
In planting the trees care should be taken not to plant them lower than they were in the nursery. This is often the ten-
dency when planting in very loose ground. As a result of too deep planting the trees will grow slowly. The holes should not be dug until the trees are ready to be planted since the earth will become dry.
Setting TreesIf the trees must be kept out of the ground for several days they should be heeled-in. This is done by unpacking the plants, placing the roots in a furrow and covering them with moist soil. They should be watered regularly. If the occasion demands it they may remain in this condition several weeks. However, the sooner they are planted the better. The roots should not be left exposed to the sun or wind.
In planting the tree it is essential that the bud be well above the surface of the ground. The tree should be set straight and the soil worked carefully around the roots. When the tree is thus set a bucket full of water should be poured around the base of the tree. When the water has soaked into the ground, dry earth should be raked over the wet surface to prevent evaporation. If the soil is poor, about a pound of complete fertilizer may be mixed with the soil at planting. However, if the soil is naturally fertile this is not necessary.
CARE OF TREES
Culture of Young TreesThe object of every citrus grower for the first few years of his grove is to produce large healthy trees upon which he will later grow fruit.
To accomplish this end it is necessary that the groves be given frequent and shallow cultivation. In order to establish a good root system the young trees should be constantly supplied with water. The trees should be cultivated regularly between March and the middle of August. This will allow maximum growth, and will give time for hardening before cold weather. A harrow used around the trees about every twelve days will accomplish excellent results. It is advisable that grass and weeds be kept away from the trees since they take up moisture and fertility that should go to the trees. This is particularly true the first two or three years. After being carefully ploughed and harrowed in the fall the grove may be left until spring.
Truck crops may be ^rown between the trees for the first
few years without injury to them unless they are planted too close to the tree roots, and unless they are such crops as watermelons, sweet potatoes, peanuts, or other crops which require too much water. As a summer cover crop, crotalaria. cowpeas, beggarweed. and bunch velvet beans are all excellent.
Culture of Bearing TreesAs soon as the trees are old enough to bear, all intercrops should be discontinued, leaving all the ground to the trees. Until the rainy season starts they should receive shallow cultivation.
PruningHeavy pruning and severe cutting-back of young trees is very unadvisable. The tree should be allowed to form a low head, since it is advantageous to have the fruit near the ground. A low tree also has a better chance of escaping a freeze.
Do not try to confine a tree to its original nursery form, but give it a chance to show how it is inclined to grow and then train, it accordingly. Cut off any dead or undesirable branches. Long weak limbs should be cut back in order that the fruit will not break them off and injure the tree. Pruning should be done close to the tree or limbs in order that the cut surface will heal over readily.
In case of injury from cold the trees should be cut back to good sound wood. This should be done as soon as possible, or as soon as the extent of the damage can be determined.
During the second year of the grove it is a good plan to inspect the trees and replace any that have died or become stunted. A weakened or stunted tree seldom recovers, if ever, and should be replaced.
No hard and fast rule can be set down in regard to fertilizing citrus trees. The trees will require more fertilizer as they grow older. Different kinds of soil and different grades of fertility will require different amounts of different kinds of fertilizer.
Stable manure is a good fertilizer, but must not be used too early in the spring or too late in the fall. If used too early in the spring it will tend to make the soil dry, and if used too late in the fall it will tend to make the trees bear too early in the
spring. This might subject them to injury from late spring frosts.
Commercial fertilizers are also widely used on satsumas. Usualry this kind of fertilizer is applied three times during the year (February or March. June or July, and sometimes in August). A good fertilizer should contain about 4 per cent ammonia. 6 to 8 per cent phosphoric acid and 3 to 5 per cent potash. On groves that are bearing, the ammonia content may be reduced and the potash increased to 6 or 8 per cent.
Aside from the use of the satsuma for the same purpose as that of other oranges there has developed a cold-drink-stand use in the form of a substitute for lemonade and limeade. The fruit is gathered before it ripens and it makes a wholesome drink.
The satsuma is a favorite as a part of the lunch of school children as they can peel them without a knife and eat them without soiling their hands. The same is true of office workers who want fruit during office hours.