- Author: Ben Faber
There have been some complaints about satsuma mandarin fruit having problems. These are prone to a rind/skin/peel breakdown when the fruit is not picked promptly. It's not clear what the cause is - wet winter, warm winter - but it is less of a problem if the fruit is picked when it is mature. A lot of the time in southern California, satsumas will develop good flavor and sweetness, but for lack of cool weather, they don't turn bright orange, a hallmark of the fruit. So growers will leave the fruit on longer, hoping for color, but the fruit becomes over mature, and more susceptible to breakdown. This weakening of the peel then opens it up to infection by fungi, such as Alternaria. In warm winters, the peel matures more rapidly and is more susceptible. Early maturing varieties like ‘Okitsuwase' are especially prone to breakdown later in the season, since their rind matures earlier. They end up being a mess, as can be seen in the photo below.
Navels can have a similar problem in these winters with erratic rainfall. Common wisdom is you don't irrigate in the winter, right? Wrong. With no, low and widely spaced rain events, the tree roots dry out, and rewet with rain. Navels are building their sugar in the winter and they become suction balls for water as the sugar increases. The fruit will continue to grow as the tree takes up water. When the roots run out of water, and then are suddenly rewetted during this period, the fruit can suck up water so rapidly that the skin cant expand fast enough and will split. So this is what happens with uneven irrigation or rainfall this time of year. One of those abiotic problems in citrus.
- Author: Ben Faber
There was a lot of odd looking, water-soaked Satsuma fruit showing up this year along the coast. It was showing up as late as March since fruit can hang so much longer along the coast than the Central Valley and hotter areas. It turns out its an abiotic issue and is more associated with the cooler, coastal environment. Recently a "Gold Nugget" mandarin came in that had a very similar look to the rind. This variety doesn't have immediate satsuma parentage, but who knows what is in its past. The disorder is most commonly associated with cool, foggy or rainy conditions. In the fall we had those conditions and maybe that's what set it off. Later, secondary fungi move in to colonize, the depressions that first occur.