Florida citrus growers have been struggling with dwindling yearly harvests and lower quality
due to HLB, so researchers have been on the hunt for orange-like citrus hybrids that could
offer both quality and HLB tolerance for both the juice and fresh fruit markets. Research is
ongoing through multiple channels to develop, test, and release orange-like citrus hybrids.
Orange-Like Citrus Hybrid Contenders
Most of the hybrids, though not all, are aimed at early and mid-season citrus and the orange
juice stream. Some may have a pedigree that will make regulatory approval for OJ challenging.
The UF CREC Plant Improvement Team released four selections.
Selection 1: This hybrid is ready in October and November and features medium-sized fruit
with some seeds and a high juice content that has a mild and sweet flavor. It reaches 11 Brix
and 40 juice color score. Unfortunately, there is only one tree, so its HLB tolerance is
Selection 2: This hybrid is similar to Selection 1 in its maturity dates and unknown HLB
tolerance. It’s small-to-medium in size, seedless, and has a rich-flavored juice. It reaches 12 to
12.5 Brix and a 39 juice color score. It’s thought to be cold-hardy.
Selection 3: This hybrid is “morphologically the most orange-like fruit” of the CREC releases. It
matures in December into a medium-sized, seedless fruit that reaches 12 Brix with a 36 color
score. As to HLB tolerance, reports are the original tree is in better health than standard
Selection 4: This orange hybrid is harvestable from mid-late November to late January. The
seedless fruit has a distinct, unique shape and a high juice content with good flavor and color.
The original tree, planted pre-HLB, is healthy.
The USDA’s Agricultural Research Service released three selections. Two are highlighted:
Selection 1: “SunDragon” is an HLB-tolerant, sweet orange-like hybrid. Fruit size is variable
with few seeds, but texture and taste are very close to oranges. It matures from late November
into late January and early February. It has reached 11-13 Brix and 33/35 juice color score.
Selection 2: This hybrid is a cross between a tolerant mandarin and “SunDragon,” making it a
good contender for HLB tolerance. While its productivity is unknown, testing revealed 12 to 13-
15 Brix and the juice was analyzed as “OJ-like.”
The UF Gainesville Breeding Program released two selections.
Selection 1: Called “Sherman,” this cold-hardy hybrid ripens in October. The fruit is seedy,
mild, and reaches a Brix “in the 12 range.”
Selection 2: This hybrid matures in November and features a fruit that is seedy with a mild
flavor and Brix “in the 14 range.”