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Author Topic: The USDA 88-2 (Super Nova) may be your favorite new fruit.  (Read 1070 times)

A.T. Hagan

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The USDA 88-2 (Super Nova) may be your favorite new fruit.
« on: October 30, 2017, 03:28:56 PM »

USDA 88-2 mandarins at the Lindcove Research and Extension Center in Exeter, Calif. (David Karp)

http://www.latimes.com/food/dailydish/la-fo-mandarin-orange-20161214-story.html


David Karp

Thereís a new mandarin orange in town: the Super Nova. For almost 50 years, the fruit has tantalized visitors to university citrus variety collections with its gorgeous dark orange color, its convenient seedlessness, its rich balance of sweetness and acidity ó and its superb aromatics. Now, this mandarin is finally available commercially. And although the citrus wonít chase Cuties and Halos from markets any time soon, its excellence is outmatched only by the curious convolutions of its history and nomenclature.

It was in 1966 that Jack Hearn, an Orlando-based citrus breeder for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, crossed two sibling mandarin varieties, Lee and Nova, seeking to understand their pollination requirements. By chance, one such hybrid, then called 6-13-44, had extraordinarily fine flavor and was seedless, a rare trait among mandarins at the time. It had only one problem: The trees bore no fruit.

ďIn 34 years, Iíve seen it yield a good crop exactly once,Ē said Randall Driggers, a USDA researcher based in Fort Pierce, Fla.

Hoping the variety might produce better in California, Hearn in 1988 sent budwood for propagating to UC Riverside, where it  became known as USDA 88-2, Lee ◊ Nova (thanks to its parentage) and Novalee. There, indeed, the trees did bear moderately successful crops, though not exactly gangbusters.

As California mandarin production boomed in the 2000s, two large companies  ó which now sell the Halos and Cuties brands ó dominated the market.

LoBue Citrus, growers based in Lindsay, southeast of Fresno, tasted USDA 88-2 at a university field station in Exeter and in 2010 started planting 70 acres, hoping to establish a premium niche. A few other growers put in smaller groves, which are mostly bearing their first substantial crop this month.

But what to call this fruit of many awkward names? USDA 88-2 doesnít exactly trip off the tongue.

Robert LoBue, general manager of LoBue Citrus, first considered naming the mandarins  ďNovaleena,Ē a lovely name, although one that might sound a bit too much like a Longfellow poem. Then he decided that Super Nova was a better moniker, a name that is inspired by the fruitís  bright orange color and blazing flavor. And yes, the brand will be trademarked, so other growers have to come up with their own names. Will they be as much fun as a mandarin named for an exploding star?

Where to find super-premium mandarins:

Super Novas will be available starting this weekend at Super King, Vintage Grocers and Vicente Foods. Grow markets sell organic Novalees (which are unwaxed) from Deer Creek Heights Ranch. Friendís Ranches of Ojai offers unwaxed Lee ◊ Novas  at the Santa Monica Wednesday and Hollywood farmers markets.

Two other super-premium varieties are coming into season. Large, easy to peel, seedless and richly flavored, Sumo has ruled the specialty mandarin world since its domestic introduction in 2011. This seasonís huge crop just hit the shelves at Whole Foods, Bristol Farms and Gelsonís. And starting Jan. 18, after an absence of two years, Jonelle George of Lindsay, Calif.,  will return to the Santa Monica Wednesday market with unwaxed Sumos.

Next week, Friendís Ranches will offer the ultimate connoisseurís mandarin, DaisySL, with smooth, dark orange skin, firm flesh that melts in the mouth, and a fantastically intense, complex flavor ó like tangerine candy. Polito Farms also will have them, at the Santa Monica, La Cienega and Venice farmers markets.

CA Hockey

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Re: The USDA 88-2 (Super Nova) may be your favorite new fruit.
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2018, 10:17:02 PM »
I have. Lee x nova (super nova) tree. I have posted before that it appears to be a difficult grower with significant dieback each year and needs to be carefully pruned to encourage optimal sustained growth

I have a daisy as well. I think itís a daisysl but not 100% sure as it is labeled daisy but has no seeds. Not sure if the grower just swapped out the varieties or not.

Growing sumo/shiranuiw - very vigorous growth.


I am also growing encore. Reportedly excellent flavor but seedy. Ucr has an encore ls but is not releasing it even to licensed growers because it is visually unappealing and has minimal commercial potential.

K

luak

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Re: The USDA 88-2 (Super Nova) may be your favorite new fruit.
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2018, 07:47:30 PM »
Ca. Hockey how are your persimmon grafts holding up. The sionwood you send me are doing pretty good.It sure made a lot of new tree's. Thanks again Bob.

CA Hockey

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Re: The USDA 88-2 (Super Nova) may be your favorite new fruit.
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2018, 02:41:18 AM »

Thanks for asking.

I made about 10-12 grafts out of the varieties you sent me. I have at least 1 take from each variety, and one of them is growing tremendously (giombo?).

I did lose my giant fuyu tree though. It never woke up from dormancy and the rootstock is growing out the bottom. I figured I would let rootstock grow and try and graft over it. Iíve read there are 3 main varieties of giant fuyu with Hana being one although most local nurseries sell gosho instead so this year Iíll be looking for that variety and still trying to get my hands on the vaniglia persimmon but rojo brillante made my day and the rest were icing on the cake!

Iíve done maybe 200-250 grafts so far this year between persimmon, avocado, citrus, apple, stone fruit, fig, mulberry, sapote, sapodilla, mango, cherimoya, atemoya. My skills should be improving but the juryís still out.

Great to hear the grafts are going well. My skills are so-so

Linh

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Re: The USDA 88-2 (Super Nova) may be your favorite new fruit.
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2018, 09:53:26 AM »
I did not know what this cross was (lee x nova). I bought two plants from Costco three years ago still in pots.
This is first year fruiting.

 

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