RIVERSIDE, Calif. The first commercial crop of a new mandarin variety created by scientists at the University of California, Riverside will be harvested beginning later this month.
The fruit, called Tango, is the result of an induced mutation of W. Murcott mandarin. Originally from Morocco, W. Murcott mandarins have a deep orange color, easy-peel rind and tangy-sweet flavor traits shared by the Tango. However, when W. Murcott mandarins are planted within five miles of other seed-bearing citrus such as Clementine mandarins, lemons or grapefruit they can be cross-pollinated by bees and become seedy. In contrast, the Tango is virtually seedless wherever it is grown.
"This is the most promising mandarin the university has ever produced," said Mikeal Roose, a professor of genetics in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, who led the effort to develop the Tango.
The Tango mandarin was patented, and registered trees were established by the UC Citrus Clonal Protection Program. Distribution of budwood to citrus nurseries began in June 2006 and was limited exclusively to California growers for one year. Tango was introduced into Florida in 2007 and the trees were available internationally under exclusive licenses in 2009.
In all, 1.6 million Tango trees were sold to growers in California through March 2010. Tango trees may soon be available to home gardeners through retail nurseries.
The process used to produce the Tango irradiating budwood of W. Murcott to induce a mutation mimics nature's manner of improving fruit. Radiation from the sun or natural errors during cell division can cause a single branch or fruit to mutate and develop unique characteristics, which scientists call a "sport." (People have been reproducing favorable sports
|Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala|
University of California - Riverside