Rootstocks and varieties are important considerations in Florida citrus due to the many constraints growers must deal with, from diseases like phytophthora, citrus tristeza virus, and HLB, to issues like climate and soil types. Rootstock choice can integrate a tolerance or resistance to soil-borne diseases and other issues to a scion, and they influence tree attributes such as tree size, yield, and fruit quality. Explore the top rootstocks and varieties in Florida from the 2021 Budwood Report from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Top Florida Rootstocks
Rootstock preference in Florida has been shaped by numerous factors, such as, cold tolerance, increase production, and disease tolerance. For instance, sweet orange rootstock was once the norm until it became evident how susceptible it was to phytophthora. Then, many growers switched to sour orange, which had its own problems with citrus tristeza virus.
Today, HLB tolerance is one of the biggest factors in rootstock preference. It’s likely why US-942, a hybrid of Sunki mandarin and Flying Dragon, is the most popular rootstock with more than 1.28 million nursery trees budded on the US-942 rootstock.
Traditional rootstocks took the next spots. Kuharske Carrizo was second-most popular with 841,448 trees, X-639 was third most popular with 678,095 trees, and Swingle was the fourth most popular with 468,558 trees. Rootstock trials recently have shown others that have more production with better HLB disease tolerance, such as C-54 and C-146 over US-942. It’s better to spread your risk by planting more than one rootstock.
Top Florida Varieties
In 2020, Valencia clone SPB-1-14-19 was the most popular citrus variety planted, with over 2 million trees grown. The second top variety was Vernia UF 35-15 with 464,156 trees grown, and Hamlin 1-4-1 was the third-most popular citrus variety propagated in Florida with 387,356 trees.
It’s no surprise that the most-budded variety/rootstock pairing in 2020-21 was Valencia clone SPB-1-14-19 on US-942—the most popular clone with the most popular variety—with 467,870 trees budded.
Other non-orange varieties took a lot of the spots in the top ten most grown citrus varieties in Florida. They included Meyer lemon at the fifth spot with 150,059 trees propagated, Star Ruby grapefruit DPI-60 in the sixth spot with 134,489 trees propagated, Key lime SPB-51-12 in the seventh spot with 118,594 trees propagated, Ray Ruby grapefruit CGIP-103 in the ninth spot with 74,665 trees propagated, and Bearss lemon SPB-341-95-33 in the tenth spot with 71,127 trees propagated. Additionally, Persian lime SPB-7 was the fourteenth-most popular citrus variety grown in Florida with 50,841 trees propagated. A lot of the lemons and limes were for the homeowner/ retail market.