Isabelina, a new mandarin variety from the Citrus Genetic Improvement Program of the Faculty of Agronomy and Forestry Engineering of the Catholic University (UC), is an early, easy-to-peel, intense-orange, seedless fruit.
Under forced pollination (manual pollination with W. Murcott's fertile pollen), it has a maximum of 0.5 average seeds per fruit. In contrast, the Oronules variety can have an average of 5 seeds per fruit, with a maximum of 30 under the same conditions. “We can guarantee that this is the maximum seed contamination you'll have, which is highly competitive and also a great success for our breeding program,” stated Johanna Martiz, a researcher at the Program.
Isabelina is part of the “Obtaining and developing new low seed and seedless mandarin and lemon varieties to improve the competitiveness of the Chilean citrus industry” project supported by the Foundation for Agricultural Innovation (FIA), Viveros Deliplant, and Agricom.
The new variety is also a solution for those looking to plant further south, despite the risks of low temperatures. “Climate change has forced us to look for new planting areas that have water availability. This variety could be an option in areas of the sixth and seventh regions. These are areas where we can count on irrigation water, but that have an increased risk of frost. Since it is an early variety, producers can harvest it before these weather events occur.”
The US is the main destination for more than 90% of Chilean citrus exports. The Citrus Genetic Improvement Program seeks to reconquer that market with this quality seedless fruit.
“Our main motivation was to create Chile's first seedless clementine variety. This early variety is harvested in the last week of April. This allows us to reach that market earlier and compete -with a product that has better conditions and quality- with the fruit of other destinations, such as Peru and South Africa.”