One of Florida"s largest tangerine grower-shippers is developing seedless and easy-peel varieties.
Within the next couple of years, Winter Haven, Fla.-based Wm. G. Roe & Sons Inc. plans to market 10 proprietary seedless and easy-peeling tangerine varieties, through its Noble World Wide sales division.
In the 2015 season, Noble plans to offer 500,000 5-pound cartons of its proprietary varieties, growing to significant volumes by 2016, said Bill Roe, vice president of operations and manager of the company"s breeding program.
"Florida has been trounced by California and the world in the development of superior mandarin selections over the past 20 years," Roe said. "Besides the California clementine, there"s not a seedless, easy-peeling tangerine on the market. This will be a new age for Florida and provide some sizzle to our tangerine category that hasn"t existed in the past."
While Roe said the Gainesville-based University of Florida"s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has focused more on tangerines since 2005, he said breeders haven"t vetted many varieties, which require five to seven years before the first commercial varieties are planted.
Reminiscent of the dancy tangerine, a century-old industry staple, the first variety ripens in early November and offers a robust, juicy, high character fruit, Roe said.
A second fruit, an easy-peeling and nearly seedless variety, ripens in early December and could pass for a clementine, he said.
A low-seeded high brix mandarin variety should offer potential for repeat shopper purchases November through mid-February. Roe plans to introduce other seedless and easy-peel mandarin varieties.
Wm. G. Roe & Sons, which began operations in 1927, started breeding research in the late 1980s on a one-acre research operation on at Eagle Lake, Fla.