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Cold Hardy Citrus / Re: Citrus in the Pacific Northwest
« on: May 12, 2017, 04:08:01 PM »
They recommend Poncirus rootstock to make sure the citrus goes into dormancy so it doesn't experience freeze damage.
In Portland, attempts at trying to grow these cold-hardy citrus outside with no protection generally have a 50% success rate. Whether a particular plant is going to be able to make it appears to be inexplicable. It's also worth pointing out that somewhere like South Carolina has a lot more heat during the Summer half of the year, so all that growth no doubt helps compensate for damage during a winter freeze. The PNW does not have that heat so much. If you really want your citrus to do well, that plant is going to need some transparent covering from Spring on to about May (give or take depending on how far north exactly you are). The plant may barely grow during this time but at least it will help prepare for Summer growth. The citrus should be able to keep growing until about September, when growth will slow to a standstill, though dormancy may not start until October, or even November.
(Covering in mid-October can be important just to keep the plant dry out of the rain to help it more seamlessly enter dormancy)

Fruit-bearing citrus in the PNW really needs some sort of covering for the first part of the year, and/or a good microclimate where it will get lots of sun and retain heat during the night. A large plastic bag covering and an LED bulb on an extension cord can work wonders, as well as putting some black-painted large containers of water inside the enclosure.

Again, young plants need protection. If it's under 2 feet it needs to go in a greenhouse or under grow lights during the Winter for the first few years (1 to 3 years).

Because of the high latitudes, and corresponding low angle of the sun in the sky during Winter, it's important to think about how sun exposure will change throughout the year in different spots. Before you plant, you might want to take a look outside during Winter at different times of the day to see which spots don't get much sun. This has more to do with trying to help prevent the plant from freezing at night. Put against a South-facing brick wall to help retain some of the sun's heat during the night. Or place a dark colored barrel of water behind it.

One guy even created a solar oven with a semicircle of reflectors focused on a black barrel of water with the plant in the ground right in front of it. Not sure how effective that was but it's an interesting idea. (Winter skies are completely overcast 85% of the time, but then again the coldest nightly lows usually hit right after the rare clear sunny days)

I recently moved to some Farm ground west of Portland (Banks, OR west of Hillsboro). I have Yuzu, Sudachi, Owari, Kishu, Gold nugget, Oro Blanco, and several others I am experimenting with.  I am hoping to see what can go outside, and what microclimate I can setup for them.
Unfortuantely where you are isn't going to be any warmer than Portland, because of those mountains blocking marine influence.

I do remember reading someone report about Sudachi being able to survive outdoors in Portland. It was protected from the wind.

Cold Hardy Citrus / Citrus in the Pacific Northwest
« on: May 11, 2017, 11:53:01 PM »
Temperatures & Climate of PNW Cities

The city of Olympia, WA happens to be farther north than Duluth, Minnesota. Heck, it happens to be farther north in latitude than Quebec City in Canada. (Don't believe me? Pull out a map)
And yet it is possible to grow some limited varieties of citrus here, and I'm not talking about those yucky borderline hybrids of Trifoliate Orange.

Firstly, temperatures. Olympia is in climate zone 8a. Winter nighttime lows tend to be 27F at the lowest. Looking back at temperature records, there were two separate 3-day stretches where the nighttime lows dipped down to 19F. These nighttime lows were all preceded by sunny days where there wasn't the cloud cover and marine influence that helps moderate the temperatures. So ironically, if you see an anomalous sunny day during the coldest part of winter, watch out! That's probably when the plants are going to need protection that night.

Ironically as you head just an hour or two north you move into climate zone 8b. This is because Tacoma and Seattle sit right against the sound and all that water helps moderate the winter low temperatures. In Olympia, by contrast, a lot of the marine air from the coast has to move over 50 miles of land, and by that time has had a chance to cool down a few degrees. That's not to say Olympia doesn't get any influence from the sound, but the city sits at the very end of the sound, where it's narrower, and ends up not getting as much influence from it. So Olympia may get just a week of light snow in the winter whereas Tacoma may get nothing. Probably the spot with the most moderate winter temperatures is Point Defiance, which juts out into the sound. Not surprisingly there's a plant nursery named Jungle Fever exotics located here.

The overall climate in Olympia and Seattle is not that different, but there are some differences. Olympia tends to have slightly hotter summers. Olympia also has slightly less sunny days per year, though the difference is very slight. Olympia gets a little more rainfall, since Seattle is subject to some extent to the rain shadow effect from the Olympic mountains. Seattle does have slightly higher winter lows than Olympia, both because of its location and because of the extensive urban development in the region. As we move further north into Vancouver, Canada, the winter nighttime lows are yet higher still than Seattle. This is because Vancouver sits right on the water and gets more direct access to the marine influence from the Pacific Ocean (through the Strait of Juan de Fuca). Temperatures are overall about 2 degrees cooler in Vancouver than Seattle, it's just that the lows points tend not to be as low. Victoria, on Vancouver Island, is practically subtropical. Well, as close as subtropical gets in Canada. There's someone with a farm out there growing Meyer lemons! While it is really on the borderline of the temperature citrus can survive in, the huge amount of marine influence probably means there are not devastating cold spells that come along every so many years. This is the case in Olympia, which may occasionally have a winter colder than other years. You can grow regular varieties of pomegranates, but every 8 years or so there will be a devastating freeze that will freeze kill them all to the ground. (Slightly more cold-hardy varieties can survive though)

When you go south to Portland, the trend continues. Portland is warmer, but it's also further inland. This can sometimes mean freak hail storms some years. Overall, Portland probably has just a tiny bit colder lows than Olympia during the winter, but also warmer highs. Certainly it's warmer during the height of summer, where sometimes it can get uncomfortably hot for 2 to 4 weeks. It's worth pointing out here that Portland appears to be the northernmost extent of where roses seem to grow very well (hotter, dryer summers and the longer growing season).

It's fair to say that the temperatures are not a huge degree different from Portland to Vancouver (Canada) but there are some small but significant differences. More like an overall trend as you head north over this regional stretch. It's not a coincidence these major cities are located where they are. Usually going higher in latitude would make things colder, but in this case the major cities have progressively more marine influence as one goes north along this stretch, which helps counteract the difference in latitude.

In case you're wondering why the Northwest experiences much milder winters than the Northeast, it's because winds bring warmer ocean air inland. When it rains, that also helps prevent the temperature from going too low, because water vapor releases latent energy of heat as it condenses. The West coast tends to get most of its precipitation during the winter.

So the Pacific Northwest has mild winters. But it also has a short growing season. The winter lows might not be too bad but those temperatures don't start getting up to where citrus needs for growing until around May. And as much rainfall as the Pacific Northwest gets, the trees are probably still going to need some watering during the dry summers.

Citrus Varieties that can be Grown

Yuzu can definitely grow outside in the PNW. Bloomsweet grapefruit can be reliably grown with just a little bit of minimal protection during the winter, starting in late December. (Make sure the plant is grown indoors during the winter under a grow light, some place warm, and where the indoor humidity won't drop too low, for the first two years to give the plant a chance to get some time to become established, because young small plants usually are not able to survive cold very well, not until they get to 2 or 3 feet high)
Satsuma mandarins have been grown in Olympia, though they don't tend to produce very well without some minimal amount of covering.
Ichang mandarins or Citrus taiwanica (Taiwanica lemon) should be no problem.

Some Overall Thoughts about the Historical World Movement of Citrus

It is ironic, from one standpoint. There are actually so many plants from Japan that are commonly planted in the PNW now. There's a fair amount of influence from Asia (particularly Northeast Asia) in the PNW region, which has come across from the other side of the Ocean. But cold-hardy citrus has not been one of this influences. Even in Southern California, virtually all of the citrus varieties came from Florida or, in a few number of instances, Texas.

The reason citrus has traditionally been viewed as a climate zone 10 fruit (or zone 9 at best) no doubt has to do with history and geography. While Asia was the heart of citrus growing, the traditional varieties that we are most familiar with were brought to Mediterranean Europe via the Muslims from India. Oranges were already growing in Spain before Marco Polo's journey to China, so since Europe already had oranges and lemons of their own, the citrus varieties in Asia were not seen as such a novelty. With the exception of pomelo which could never be grown in Europe. That would later get bred into grapefruit though, which could be grown in Florida and parts of Texas. America was settled from East to West, originally by peoples who came mostly from Western Europe, so this had a profound effect on the varieties of plants under cultivation. The particular varieties might not have been the most suitable to the lands being settled, but that's what they had, that's what they were familiar with. This in large part explains why the Mid-Atlantic Northeast was the first region to be primarily settled, because the climate was so similar to that of England and many of the same crops were suitable to grow there. It also explains why the Spanish were more successful at settling lands with warmer dryer climates more similar to their own (like in Mexico, Texas, and Southern California). Pomegranate and quince were traditionally viewed as warmer Mediterranean fruits. It was not until just two or three decades ago that new varieties of these fruits were brought to America from Southern Russia that were more cold tolerant and disease resistant in wetter climates. Although the Northwestern part of Europe has a cooler wetter climate, they were only familiar with the lineage of pomegranate and quince that had reached them from the Mediterranean, and this carried over into America as well. It's the same story with citrus, the citrus known in Europe were only those varieties that had originally been taken from China to India and cultivated in India (approximately climate zone 10).

Meanwhile, there were cold-hardier citrus being cultivated in remote parts of interior China, and in Japan cold-hardier citrus varieties were being bred (primarily from Yuzu that had been taken from China).

Oranges were probably quicker to culturally disseminate over long distances, gradually making their way to Europe, than mandarins were (despite mandarins being the more cold-hardy of the two) because oranges have a thicker rind and longer shelf life, so the fruit could survive a longer journey, to be tasted by someone else from another culture. Of course the citron was known in the Middle East since ancient times. Just had to add some historical perspective in this post.

On the subject of Bloomsweet and its origins from Japan, please see my post in this thread: "Bloomsweet" (it happens not to be posted in the Cold Hardy Citrus section which is why I'm giving you this link)

Thoughts on why the idea of trying to grow Citrus in the PNW never became popular

Well anyway, back on topic. While there has now been plenty of experimentation in Northern Florida, Texas, Georgia, and South Carolina growing citrus varieties outdoors, there is virtually no one in the Pacific Northwest growing citrus outdoors, despite the PNW being in the same official climate zone range.

And despite the PNW actually being much closer to the region of the world where all these cold-hardy citrus varieties came from (Japan and China). That's what I find so ironic.
Perhaps it's because all these areas (FL, TX, GA, SC) are so close to the citrus growing region in Florida. Whereas the PNW is so far away from Southern California, and in any case most of the citrus growing around the coast of California has since been destroyed due to the high land costs due to high population growth in that region. The commercial citrus growing in California has been pushed far inland, but then it can only go so far north before the winter lows get too cold.

So someone in South Carolina has commercial citrus groves growing a few hundred miles South of them, whereas someone in the far northern part of California has the San Francisco Bay area to the South of them. And then there are the coastal mountains in the northern part of the state, which means that the citrus growing would have to be very close to the coast, but then there is also all that coastal fog and clouds. It doesn't have those high temperatures and sunny weather citrus plants like. So I suppose the economics and geography on the West Coast are not as continuous as on the East Coast. On the East Coast it's merely a matter of temperature as you begin heading north from the Florida citrus belt. The region is much more flat, and surrounding land costs lower in the area we are talking about. What I mean is that, when you stop and think about it the reasons become pretty plain as to why there has been such little attempt at trying to start taking citrus northward on the West Coast; it's not such a natural progression or obvious inclination.

So maybe to summarize this post, there are reasons for everything, if we really want to examine them, but sometimes those reasons are kind of complicated.
I have so many thoughts here, hard to stay on one topic.

Citrus General Discussion / Origins of Kinkoji
« on: May 11, 2017, 05:36:09 PM »
In this post I hope to help cast some light on the mystery of what Bloomsweet actually is, which lineages of citrus exactly it came from.

Firstly, it is known that Bloomsweet was probably brought to Texas by immigrant citrus orchard growers from Japan. The Japanese variety it corresponds to appears almost certainly to be a variety named Kinkoji.
(I wonder if this could have anything to do with how the extremely rare Chorioactis geaster mushroom came to be naturalized in parts of Texas, but that's a very separate topic)

According to the following study, Kinkoji appears to be a direct hybrid between a Kunenbo and a pomelo-type citrus.

Hybrid Origins of Citrus Varieties Inferred from DNA Marker Analysis of Nuclear
and Organelle Genomes
, Shizuoka, Japan

The obvious question arises as to why then the Bloomsweet (Kinkoji) is so cold-hardy. Neither Kunenbo nor Japanese pomelo-type citrus is extremely cold tolerant. What is more likely, I think, is that the pomelo-type parent may itself actually have been a pomelo-yuzu hybrid.
Yuzu carries genes from a papeda ancestor, but this papeda ancestor is not exactly from the same direct lineage as the Ichang papeda. Likely this old ancestor has been lost.
It has been speculated that the Bloomsweet is a hybrid between pomelo and Ichang papeda, but I do not believe this theory is actually correct, or historically likely.
There exist several traditional citrus varieties in Japan that had a Yuzu parent. One of these is Sudachi, which is used more often than Yuzu in the Tokushima region of Japan. Despite what some sources seem to suggest, Sudachi originated in Japan and was not directly descended from C. Ichangsis (though it might not be entirely inaccurate to describe these fruits as having C. Ichangsis in their genetic lineage).

The reason Bloomsweet is so cold-hardy probably has to do with genes originating from papeda and passed down through yuzu, in combination with genes from mandarin (which does have more cold-hardiness than Orange, but still is not extremely cold-tolerant). The particular mandarin variety from which all Japanese mandarins descended is believed to be Kishu, which originally came from China.

The hypothesized yuzu-pomelo parent might have had cold-hardy yuzu genes but it also probably had genes from pomelo that made it vulnerable to cold. These genes would not get bred out until the next breeding cross. And a yuzu-pomelo hybrid would not have been very valuable for Japanese to propagate at that time. It would have been much less edible than a regular pomelo, but less useful than other yuzu-type citrus for flavoring food. It was probably just a novel citrus cross that was not preserved. Someone probably took seeds from it to see if anything more useful could come from it. And that was a cold-hardy pomelo-like fruit, the Kinkoji.

But here is something else I found. Hyuga-natsu is believed to be cross between pomelo and yuzu. (It's grown in the far South of Japan)
It's possible Bloomsweet may have come from Hyuga-natsu.
Both Kinkoji and Hyuga-natsu are self-incompatible varieties.
Self- and Cross-incompatibility of Various Citrus Accessions, Kagoshima University
That means that any seeds that were taken from a Hyuga-natsu would have been hybrids of some other citrus growing in the vicinity.
It also suggests anyone in a Northern climate trying to grow a Bloomsweet alone all by itself will have very poor to no fruit set if they don't also have another citrus variety. But I'm not too sure about this.

So here is my proposed ancestral lineage diagram for Bloomsweet:

...............papeda.............sour mandarin
..pomelo.................yuzu........sweet orange....kishu mandarin
..........Hyuganatsu (?)......................kunenbo

If this diagram is valid, that would put the ancestral composition of Bloomsweet at
43.75% mandarin, 12.5% sour mandarin
12.5% unknown papeda ancestor
and 31.25% pomelo ancestry, if we include the fact that sweet orange has 25% pomelo ancestry

I suspect that Bloomsweet's mitochondrial DNA (along the seed parent line) originated from pomelo.

Here's my Karp's Sweet quince tree:

There are several blossoms on it. No fruit yet.

Apparently, at least for me in climate zone 10, Karp's Sweet does behave deciduously, but not absolutely entirely since there were 3 green leaves (albeit a little brown) left on it throughout the winter.

Temperate Fruit Discussion / Re: Cristobalina
« on: April 08, 2017, 07:59:44 PM »
This is the only information I was able to find:

Cristobalina is a low chill Spanish heirloom variety. It is self-fertile and requires about 200 chill hours. Cristobalina has been grown for generations of cherry growers in Andalucia and Valencia, where winters are as mild as they are in Southern California, and reliably produces fruit despite lack of a cold winter. It is known to flower mid-February and produces dark purple, delicious sweet cherries. The only negative is that the fruit does not have as much edible flesh as other more popular cherry varieties, but thinning the tree can help lead to more full-sized fruit.

There has been some speculation that Cristobalina may likely have been used by Zaiger to breed Royal Lee and Royal Minnie.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Canistel vs. Lucuma
« on: December 03, 2016, 02:49:44 AM »
Lucuma is more like pumpkin flavor, you should try it cooked in a dessert.

Are sweet cherries in the same species as flowering cherries? I have actually done some research into this, and it turns out the answer is very complicated, it's not an easy yes or no question, for a variety of reasons. As it turns out, it IS possible to crossbreed sweet cherries with flowering cherries, and importantly the second generation offspring will be fertile (that's not the case when sweet cherries are crossed with sour cherries). The reason generally has to do with chromosome count. Sweet cherries have 16 chromosomes. Wild Japanese flowering cherry trees also have 16 chromosomes. However, there are many ornamental cultivars which resulted from hybridization, which have 24 chromosomes. Black cherries and sour cherries, on the other hand, have 32 chromosomes. If you crossbreed sweet cherries with sour cherries, the resulting hybrid tree will have 24 chromosomes, and will still be able to produce fruit, but the seeds will be sterile (like breeding a horse and donkey together resulting in a mule, there will be no third generation).

The popular pink flowering cherry variety 'kanzan' resulted from hybridization many hundreds of years ago and is sterile, it will not produce any fruit. One of the indicators that this variety resulted from hybridization is the fact that the blossoms are double-flowered (2 rows of petals). This is common in other species as well (such as the yellow cotton tree, for example), double-flowered blossoms often mean the plant is sterile and cannot produce seeds. Particular cultivars of cherry are propagated by cuttings, so the fact that they cannot produce seed does not matter.

By far the most common ornamental cherry variety is Yoshino. I was watching a documentary and there was an elderly Japanese expert who lamented that Yoshino is not really a natural variety. Wild cherry blossom trees in Japan do produce tiny drupelet fruits. They are not very edible (the birds like eating them though). But the Yoshino cultivar is a terrible pollinator, it does not even attract bees. Those little fruits often cannot even form when there is inadequate pollination.

For anyone who may be interested, I came across a published reference to Prunus campanulata being crossbred with sweet cherries. Here is the excerpt:

"Since there is no low-chill germplasm avaialable for sweet cherry, the only other alternative is to go to another species of cherry for this trait. Several species have been used in crosses with sweet cherry with occasional success with Prunus pleiocerasus and Prunus campanulata. In 1957, W.E. Lammerts made a cross between P. pleiocerasus and P. avium 'Black Tartarian'. This hybrid is very low-chilling (<200 CU ) but not self fruitful. The hybrid was repeatedly crossed with sweet cherry and P. campanulata. In the mid 1970s, the Florida program developed several seedlings by using mixed pollen (P. campanulata and 'Stella'). All the hybrids had pink blooms and thus were probably hybrids with P. campanulata. Several of these seedlings were fruitful. Although the size is still small, this germplasm is useful for the development of low-chill sweet cherries."

Temperate Fruit Crops in Warm Climates, edited by Amnon Erez, p216

Prunus campanulata is the Formosan cherry, called kanhizakura in Japanese. It is distinct from the other cherries with its deep magenta colored blossoms.  Several hybrids of kanhizakura with other Japanese flowering cherries exist: kanzakura, okame, and youkouzakura being the three most prominent. The Formasan cherry is remarkable for being the only flowering cherry not originally native to Japan, and its ability to thrive in the Southernmost part of Japan where there is very little chill.

There are nine different varieties of cherry that grow in the wild in Japan, from which all other cultivated flowering cherry varieties originate:

Yamazakura (Prunus jamasakura)

Oyamazakura (Prunus sargentii)

Kasumisakura (Prunus verecunda)

Oshimazakura (Prunus speciosa)

Edohigan (Prunus Ascendens spachiana)

Mamesakura (Prunus incise)

Choujizakura (Prunus apetala)

Minezakura (Prunus nipponica)

Miyamazakura (Prunus maximowiczii)

Some of you may be wondering about grafting. Can you graft Japanese flowering cherry onto Sweet cherry (Prunus Avium) ?
The answer is yes you can. In fact flowering cherry is commonly grafted onto P. avium rootstock by many nurseries to dwarf it. My personal opinion is this is probably not the best for the tree in the long term, it will cut the tree's lifespan short. Both sweet cherry and flowering cherry can eventually grow to become quite big if grown on their own roots (not grafted), the size of an oak tree. It is also possible to graft sweet cherry onto sour cherry, but they are generally not considered graft compatible (have poor compatibility). A big part of this may have to do with differing growth rates, since sweet cherry grows much faster than sour cherry. If the rootstock side of a graft union outgrows the scion, the scion will wither and eventually die. Graft incompatibility can take 2 or 3 years to show up. A scion with very poor compatibility will be unhealthy and severely dwarfed.

The little white flowers have a beautiful scent, like jasmine but even better. The fragrance is not very strong though.

At night, if there are enough natal plum bushes around and the summer air is moist, the surroundings can smell like honeysuckle and something almost like bananas, it's wonderful.

I don't know if anyone has ever made this connection before but to me the fragrance smells very similar to pomelo rind, if you cut into it or crush it. (For those of you who don't know, pomelo smells a lot more floral and less pungent than grapefruit to which it is related)

Hi Matthew

Interesting to hear someone is growing [or trying to grow] cocoa in Southern California. I grew vanilla orchids. They prefer a spot with morning sun where they won't get too dried out in the summer heat. It's important to keep them consistently watered in the summer.

Something a lot of people don't realize about potted tropical plants, it's important to keep the roots warm.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: different Mangosteen variety called 'mesta'
« on: November 30, 2016, 05:09:21 PM »
I mentioned the similarity to Wood's Cycad, which does not have any surviving females left in the species.

There was a report in 1987 (Idris and Rukayah) of the existence of a male mangosteen tree, about 70 years old, growing in the Negeri Sembilan region of peninsular Malaysia. The characteristics were similar to those of the female tree but the male flowers were smaller than female flowers, and the stamens in the male flower were numerous and arranged in a mass, the filaments of the male flowers being much shorter than those of the female flowers. Later studies by Richards in 1990 suggested that this plant could have been a hybrid between mangosteen and either G. malaccensis or G. hombroniana. There can be found mangosteen trees growing wild in the forests of Kemaman, in peninsular Malaysia, though it is unclear whether they were endogenous to this region or escaped into the wild from human cultivation.

This would be of great interest to anyone thinking about trying to breed new varieties of purple mangosteen.

Something else that may be of interest, a new technique has been developed in Malaysia that can substantially speed up the growth of young mangosteen trees. Instead of taking 10-12 years to start bearing fruit, this technique allows seedlings to start bearing fruit in just five years after planting. The technique simply involves grafting three mangosteen seedlings together into a single trunk.

The traditional method used to speed up growth was to add a different rootstock (G. xanthochymus ) through inarching. In this way the young mangosteen plant still retains its original root but now it has a new more vigorous root supply. The reason why young mangosteen seedlings are so slow growing and frail is because initially all they have is a single taproot. It takes a few years for the plant to send out other roots.

Also putting mulch around the base of the tree is very important to retain moisture.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: different Mangosteen variety called 'mesta'
« on: November 30, 2016, 04:45:14 PM »
Doesn't look like mesta to me which are similar in shape to the standards. It looks like the Borneo pointed types which have larger fruit, fewer seeds and are more acidic.
Well, the caption next to the picture in the book said it was 'mesta'. I suppose the authors could have misidentified it. Mangosteens are an obscure fruit and most people do not know that much about them; confusion and misidentification is fairly common.

By the time the fruit hardens that much don't bother opening it because it will not be any good inside.
Not true. The shell can be as hard as wood and still be ok to eat inside. However, at that point it probably doesn't have long to go.
The typical mangosteen you will find imported into the U.S. (if you're lucky enough to ever see one) will have a pretty hard shell. Maybe not quite literally as hard as wood, but still just a bit difficult to open with a knife. I mean harder than the outer shell of a cantaloupe melon.
It's a small wonder that mangosteen shell can go from being so soft to so hard over such a short length of time. Fresh mangosteen shell (i.e. the pericarp) can be kind of spongy, and quirts out dark red juice that stains. This juice is astringent but is supposed to be high in antioxidants and very healthy for making a tea out of. I personally do not find the juice that astringent, and it retains a little bit of the mangosteen flavor. The pericarp also contains essential oils that supposedly can cure all sorts of skin conditions. If you get a fresh mangosteen picked right off the tree, it really is pretty effortless to pull apart the shell with your hands. If it's not that fresh, you will need a really good knife to open it, a serrated knife, because you're going to be sawing at it.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: different Mangosteen variety called 'mesta'
« on: November 30, 2016, 03:02:04 AM »
another picture of the 'mesta' variety copied from a book

note the pointed end tip; in the cut piece one of the edible segments has been taken out, note how small the sliver is, they are small because they do not contain a seed, so more segments can fit inside the fruit.

For anyone who has never tasted fresh mangosteen, the taste is a little bit like a mix between peach, banana, and pear, with a tiny bit of earthy musty (in a pleasant way) smell in the rind. Some people say there's just a tiny bit of wild strawberry or cherry to the flavor as well, and people compare the fragrant aroma to lychee. There's something slightly camphorous about the aroma and eating the fruit feels 'cooling'.

If a mangosteen is fresh enough, just picked off the tree, you can tear the outer shell off with your hands, it is that soft. But the shell hardens after sitting around 2 weeks in refrigeration, becoming like a piece of wood to the point that it can get a bit challenging to open it even with a good sharp serrated knife.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Arctic Blast for SoCal
« on: November 29, 2016, 05:51:46 AM »
Growing cherries as well as tropical fruits. That way I'm hedging my bets and can't lose. Whether it's a warmer or colder winter than usual, at least some of the trees will be spectacularly productive here.

(For those who don't know, stone fruits are really on the edge here since we don't receive enough chill hours, usually they will only produce a nice flush after a particularly cold winter, it seems like, and yes I'm working with low chill varieties)

Got a Pisang Ceylon banana, Oroblanco grapefruit, and a lychee tree. Of course mandarins are no problem here.

Actually lychees like just a tiny bit of chill (less than 150 hours), it helps them be more productive. I probably could grow Pomelo but it wouldn't be as sweet as Oroblanco in this climate. Oroblanco is close to a pomelo though, in every way except for size.

Temperate Fruit Discussion / Re: PLUMS
« on: November 21, 2016, 03:17:32 AM »
There are a few people growing green gauge plums around Los Angeles and San Diego (zone 10). They're not spectacularly productive, but they do fruit, sometimes sparsely, sometimes a medium amount. Maybe not if you live within 7 miles of the coast, but otherwise it is doable. The same thing goes for Blenheim Apricot trees (which supposedly needs 400-500 chill hours).

While the stone fruit family definitely has a tendency not to be flexible with chill hours, I believe there are a few varieties that can be a little more forgiving. For such select varieties, the chill hours may say more about what is optimal than about what the plant absolutely needs.

Temperate Fruit Discussion / Re: PLUMS
« on: November 14, 2016, 12:29:32 AM »
One excellent plum variety that I want to mention is Rene Claude Doree. It's a green gauge variety which may not look like much but has superb taste. This variety is lower chill than many others, and I believe that it will produce okay in zone 9b, just south of Tampa.

Recipes / Wholesome Cherry Snow Cone
« on: November 04, 2016, 04:14:06 PM »
Recipe for the best healthy wholesome snow cone:

snow (or shaved ice), 3 parts tart cherry juice, 2 parts freshly juiced sugar cane

The sugar cane juice is not just sugar water, and it's not as sweet as one might think, it's actually fairly healthy and full of nutrients.

Sugar cane can be grown in your own yard as far north as Sacramento.

You can also add a cherry on top for decoration (of the regular sweet cherry variety). Just make a cut in the side, enough to be able to open it up a little bit and remove the seed. Then close back up, you will hardly be able to notice the cherry has been cut into (except the stem will most likely come out with the seed).

What's the chill hour requirement? Can it be grown in a chill-free zone? I know that's the case with low-chill apples, pears and stonefruit, with an up to 200 hour requirement (the lower the better), but I'm not sure about Quince.
I believe quince can be grown in zone 10, although it's not as productive. It prefers zone 9. However, the quince in Mexico may be in an altogether different category, as it has adapted to some extent to local climatic conditions over the course of many generations of being grown there (very often being propagated by seed). Something peculiarly interesting, unlike other quince varieties, 'Karp's Sweet' does not appear to behave deciduously here, not losing its leaves in the winter.

Some people have noted that Karp's Sweet does not appear to be as productive, in terms of fruit, as other varieties, but that could just be because it is a hardier variety, so it could take more years until it becomes more productive. Fruit trees whose growth is stunted (e.g. by rootstock) tend to be more precocious, producing fruit at an earlier age. (of course the growth being stunted too much isn't a good thing either) The point is that Karp's Sweet appears to have adapted to the semi-tropical climate where its lineage existed for many generations, so maybe, I would speculate, there is less of a need for it to go through a cycle of dormancy in order for it to be productive. This would likely be true for many other Latin American quinces as well, though I do not have any experience with them.

One thing I will say is that quince stands up better to heat and dry conditions than apple, so it is particularly suitable to Southern California in that sense. A quince tree can also be fairly drought tolerant after it has had time to become established.

Conversely, quince is very prone to disease in climates with high heat combined with high humidity. All this is not surprising when you consider the part of the world where quince comes from. Quince can be grown as far north as Maine or Nova Scotia however.

Temperate Fruit Discussion / Re: hybrids between quince, pear, and apple
« on: October 24, 2016, 06:20:02 PM »
found this entry in The Book of Pears, by Joan Morgan:
"Passe Crassane [...] In a warm seasaon and at best, exceptional for late Jan., Feb.
Very juicy, buttery, white flesh, sweet, tasting of pear-drops and highly perfumed, but in a poor year astringent, fails to develop in the English climate. Passe Crassane was France’s premier late variety until recent times, produced particularly for the luxury trade, and used to be sold with stems dipped in sealing wax to help reduce moisture loss during storage. In UK among the modern pears highlighted at 1885 London Pear Conference – one of the ‘most delicious pears known’ – but it needed a warm spot."

This same book also stated that Passe Crassane was a parent of Delsanne, which is now marketed as the popular variety "Goldember".

You know, this has got me thinking about whether Comice could possibly have some distant quince ancestor in its makeup. I read that they have developed a new winter pear variety called "Angelys", which supposedly could replace Passe Crasane. It resulted from a cross between Doyenné d’Hiver and Comice. And Comice is one of the pear varieties that is compatible on quince rootstock. Maybe hundreds of years ago some quince pollen pollinated a pear blossom without anyone realizing what had taken place. Doyenné d’Hiver (known in English as "Easter Beurre") definitely looks like it could have some quince genes, very round shape, skin is a pale yellowish color, structure of the seeds in the interior also seems reminiscent of quince. But all this speculation could be completely wrong.

The thought also crossed my mind, this could explain why Passe Crassane is so extremely susceptible to fire blight, any pear-quince hybrid that was able to grow successfully is likely to have a very compromised immune response.

I have just been eating a big bag full of fresh Comice pears i got at the fruit market. They have an exquisite flavor that stands out from all the other pear varieties I have tasted. Compared to other pears, the flesh is firm and dense... one could say a little like a quince! I'm not going to say the flavor is quince-like; the flavor is definitely pear, but it does seem to have some subtle notes in its aroma that are more reminiscent of the wonderful aroma of quince than any common pear. I wonder if there might be some ionones in the aroma, because one of the fragrance notes I can pick up on has this euphoric ethereal-like feel (like those old violet flavored candies). I don't know, could I just be drawing connections where none exist?

I read that Comice is supposedly more adaptable to lower-chill conditions than many other European pear varieties (though this is debatable, Gary Matsuoka of Laguna Hills Nursery stated he had only ever seen 1 crop in 25 years).

Assuming this is true, it would not be surprising. After a fair amount of research I have come to the suspicion that some European pear varieties may in fact have a quince ancestor. If you know anything about quince (Cydonia Oblonga), it is hard yellow fruit related to pear and apple, with a wonderful very fragrant aroma, but usually too hard, dense, and astringent to eat raw, so they are usually used in cooking. Quince is generally considered a lower-chill fruit than pear or apple, and was traditionally grown around the Mediterranean. Anyway, I believe it is the quince ancestor that gives some of these French pears their exquisite flavor, but these same pear varieties also tend to be a little bit hard, firm, and dense (perhaps a little like the fruit of a quince).

The French pear passé crassane is claimed to have resulted from a cross between quince and pear. This hybridization has made this pear variety parthenocarpic, meaning it can produce fruit that does not contain seeds, without being pollinized. Being a direct hybrid from quince, you can imagine that the pear is quite hard. It needs two months to ripen off the tree, but even then the texture is quite firm. But it does have unsurpassed flavor, appreciated by pear connoisseurs and aficionados. It is sometimes appreciated by expert chefs as well, and with just a slight amount of cooking it makes for superb dessert dishes.

While passé crassane is generally a rather obscure and hard to find pear variety in America, brief mention of it did appear in a 1992 L.A. Times article about pears growing in orchards of Julian, CA, (alternatively spelled Passe-Crassane), so I would imagine there are at least a few people growing it there. "Besides Julian's Apples, There Are the Pears"

The Arboreum Company nursery, located in Santa Clara County, also sells Passe Crassane, but they may not always have it in stock available to sell.

Passé crassane is extremely susceptible to fire blight, perhaps more so than any other pear, so I don't want to get anyone's hopes up who may live in a different part of the country. This will not be a problem in the dry climate of Southern California and the rest of the Southwest though.

The French used to export a huge amount of these pears to England and Germany, but because of fire blight issues the country later banned new plantings of this once-iconic variety. There are a small number of commercial plantings still being operated in Northern Italy, where they thrive in that climate.

Back on the topic of Quince and Apple hybrids again, I would also like to briefly make mention to the apple variety known as 'Cole's Quince'. Green to yellow in color, sometimes with a red blush, and the shape of the fruit can very lumpy, said to resemble quince in flavor and aroma. This apple variety originated in Maine and was first described in 1806. It might be within the realm of possibility that pollen carried from a quince tree was able to inadvertently pollenize an apple tree, and then against all odds the resulting hybrid seedling was able to grow into an apple tree.

It goes without saying that all these hybrids are incredibly rare, and under normal circumstances you can't just crossbreed between apple/pear/quince. Pear with Quince appears to be the least difficult combination of the three.

Temperate Fruit Discussion / hybrids between quince, pear, and apple
« on: October 24, 2016, 06:11:33 PM »
Hybrid between Quince and Pear

In 1855 the nurseryman Louis Boisbunel in the Rouen region of France was successfully able to crossbred quince with pear. The resulting pear variety was named Passé Crassane, and was later used to breed many other fine tasting pear varieties. I actually have a Passé Crassane tree, by the way.

"...the passé-crassane, is actually a pear-quince hybrid that was developed in Normandy. It is particularly useful in cooking because of its firm, grainy flesh, but it is also tasty eaten raw."

The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth about What You Should Eat and Why, by Jonny Bowden, p144

While I haven't actually got any fruit yet from my tree, from the pictures I've seen it certainly looks like it might be a hybrid from the shape and slightly more yellowish color (though there are plenty of pear varieties which are yellow).

Here is a picture of a Passe Crassane:

They can develop a much more yellow color if allowed to ripen further on the tree:

I found a random mention in a wine blog that stated "It smells like quinces and pears, especially the Passe-Crassane pear..." so I am assuming this implies that the Passe Crassane at least has a note of quince in its aroma.

I found this in another blog: "Finally, we get to the Passe Crassane – my all time favourite pear which comes into season in December – they are exquisite in mulled wine. They come from the Rouen region and retain the most juice and best flavour of all pears. Again location is key and, for me, these pears are always better from the Paris area than from the Alps. These pears ripen over time and the stems are sealed with a blob of wax so that they will continue to ripen and won’t dry out. It’s this that helps to keep the flavour and juiciness of the Passe Crassane pear all winter."

I have also done some research into grafting compatibilities, and Passe Crassane happens to be one of the few pear varieties that is considered compatible on quince rootstock, so that at least is consistent with it supposedly being a hybrid.

I have more to say on the variety Passe Crassane (and other pears that are descended from it) but I will elaborate further in a separate post.

Another documented pear-quince hybrid is "Pyronia veitchii", which can be mail ordered from some nurseries. There are even different established cultivars of this intergeneric species, like 'Luxemburgiana'. There's plenty of pictures on the internet.

Pyronia veitchii resulted from a cross between the pear 'Bergamotte Esperen' (seed-parent) and the Portugal quince (pollinator).
The cross was made in 1895 by hybridiser John Seden, who was employed by the Veitch family who ran the famous nursery in England that bears their name.

The famed plant breeder Luther Burbank had made an attempt at crossbreeding quince with pear, but most of the seedlings had stunted growth, and after grafting some cuttings onto an apple tree for a few years he was unable to obtain any fruit. (Luther Burbank: Methods and Discoveries 4: 138-140, (1914))

I found another old reference that describes a quince-pear hybrid that produced seedless fruit:

“The form of the fruit is unusual and characteristic, cylindrical, slightly longer than broad, with a short peduncle arising from a shallow cavity, the eye situated in a deep basin, open, the calyx lobes persistent. The skin is thick, rough, green or yellowish-green, abundantly covered with red dots like that of a pear. The flesh is white, granular, firm, juicy, sweet, slightly acidulous with an agreeable quince-like perfume. The season of ripening is October and November. The fruits which I have eaten were picked before they were fully ripe; the flesh was pleasantly flavored but firm as in a half-ripe pear. When cooked, the fruits seemed to be intermediate in character between a pear and a quince.

In 1915 an attempt was made to pollinate flowers of [this quince-pear hybrid] with pollen from various pears, but no fruits were obtained. I did not attempt to pollinate with quince pollen, though that might offer a better chance of success.

The character of the ovules, six in each locule, arranged in two series of three, one superposed upon the other, seems to bring [this hybrid] nearer to Cydonia (quince) than to Pyrus (pear).”

The Journal of Heredity (1916), Pyronia, article by Dr. L. Trabut, Botanist of the Government of Algeria

Hybrid between Quince and Apple

This picture was taken from a Czech site, from a breeding research program, with the title "Cydomalus" and caption "Malus domestica x Cydonia oblonga ".

"Slightly more than 50% of the F2 seedlings were found to be allotriploids (3x = 2n = 51), the rest were found to be tetraploids (4x = 2n = 68). Most of the allotriploids resembled quince morphologically. All these plants formed only single-flowered inflorescences and set mostly seedless quince-type fruits. About 15% of the allotriploids displayed apple-like characters and had seedless fruit with intermediate taste. Inflorescences of this group had up to five flowers, but the majority had two to three flowers. All allotriploids produced slightly viable pollen. Allotetraploid (4x = 2n = 68) hybrids position is intermediate between the diploids and triploids. It mainly consists of large pollen grains of probably diploid (2x = 34) genotype. The other part of pollen is smaller in size, maybe haploid (x = 17), but very small sterile grains also occurred. Germination percentage […] was close to 50%. Fruits were flat-rounded, yellow with dense pulp, containing normally developed seeds (up to 25), most which germinated well. "

The paper went on to say that for the F3 generation has been grown on its own roots but after 10 years of age they had not produced fruits. Not surprising, since genetic incompatibilities can often not show up until the third generation.

The paper gives a description of an apple-like triploid hybrid: “Fruits ripen at the end of June to July. The fruit weight varies from 120 to 320 g. Skin colour is yellow, sometimes a little pink on the sunny side. Flesh is yellowish, juicy, sour-sweet”

"Genotypic variation in apple × quince progenies", I.S. Rudenko and I.I. Rudenko. Progress in Temperate Fruit Breeding, Volume 1 of the series Developments in Plant Breeding, pp 229-233

Hybrid between Apple and Pear

In the 1980’s Max Zwintzscher was the first to report obtaining a fertile F2 plant from an F1 hybrid between Malus domestica and Pyrus communis. This was seen as a big breakthrough.

The latest reports have shown that apples tend to be more adaptable to lower-chill areas than was previously thought. A field test by Tom Spellman of Dave Wilson Nursery showed that several apple varieties rated for 800 chill hours could grow just fine in Irvine (located in coastal Southern California, which only gets 50-100 real chill hours). The following apple varieties did surprisingly well: King Tompkins, Braeburn, Gravenstein, Cox's Orange Pippin. The trees tended to flower and set fruit throughout the year rather than a specific season.

The results might have had something to do with the fact that the coastal influence has a moderating effect on temperature, and in the winter it rarely ever gets above 65 F in this region, higher temperatures being very detrimental to effective chill accumulation. In other words, the same moderating influence that prevents there from ever being any chill hours below 45 F may be, paradoxically, the same influence that allows the trees to grow well even in the absence of chill hours below 45 F.

While France is famed for its quince, I would not think you would find the quince that is suitable for eating raw there. From what I've heard, the softest least astringent varieties come from the area around the Black Sea (in Russia, and maybe to a lesser extent Turkey) and in Latin America (Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela, Peru). Climate also makes a big difference, quince ripens most fully in warm climates with long summer heat, that's when the quince will become its softest, most aromatic, least astringent, and sweetest. The south of France is certainly not a bad place to grow quince, but it's not as good as somewhere like Mexico.

Probably the best one out of the ordinary varieties for trying to eat raw, and the one I suspect you have eaten, is "Orange" quince. While it's not terrible for eating raw, it's not as palatable as Aromatnaya (Russian variety from the Black Sea). Karp's Sweet (which originated from the Majes valley in Peru) is supposed to be on a whole different level, very close to the level of a Granny Smith apple, when it's at its best (grown somewhere like Southern California or Mexico). 

Figs, Quince, and Pomegranate grow very well where you live.

You might also try a Lychee tree.

There's not enough room here but I would encourage you to do some research into these fruits.

Fresh pomegranates can make excellent juice (tastes far better than the pomegranate juice at the store). You need to know the proper technique to cut open the fruits and efficiently take out the arils inside without making mess. After being separated out, the arils are then pressed for their juice. This is the best way to make the juice, otherwise both the white rind and/or the hard seeds contained inside the edible arils can impart an off-flavor. The juice should then be drunk within a few days, or frozen to preserve the fresh flavor. From this you may be able to get some idea why the pomegranate juice sold at supermarkets does not taste so wonderful.

Lychees have the aroma of roses. The only reason everyone doesn't know about them and love them is because they do not ship fresh very well and are perishable (they can easily develop a bad sour off-flavor if they've been sitting around too long).

Another recommendation, a seedless Satsuma mandarin (i.e. "tangerine") tree. A note about the flavor, the first year the flavor can be a little insipid, but the flavor gradually improves after a few years, reaching peak flavor at around 12-20, maybe even 25 years old. At their best, and picked right off the tree, this fruit is unbelievable! You won't be able to stop eating them. The tree produces around December and makes great gifts to give away in bags to family members.

Temperate Fruit Discussion / Re: What's bothering my cherry tree?
« on: October 21, 2016, 06:38:46 PM »
In the hot dry climate where you live, that cherry tree definitely needs a bigger pot to give the root system more access to moisture in the soil. Otherwise it will dry out. Also make sure you are using the type of soil that will retain water well (loamy soil, I recommend compost with a small amount of thick wood chips in there, not redwood chips; decaying wood can act as a sponge for water).

Most likely, Stella will rarely ever produce fruit in zone 10. For Lapins, I have read reports that the fruit production in zone 10 will be off and on, typically producing every other year, though the crops are not that big.

I am growing a Bing, just as an experiment. It may never produce fruit here, but it seems to be growing pretty good and it already put out 11 blossoms in its second year. Might have to graft on a different variety if it doesn't produce fruit by 5 years. Though I did see in another forum someone (close to where I live) got 12 cherries from an ultra-dwarf Bing in a pot, which was encouraging.

One word of advice I can give you, which I think will be very helpful, move the pot under partial shade during both the Winter (December to the beginning of February) and during the Summer (middle of May to the beginning of September). In Winter this will help increase the effective amount of chill accumulation the plant experiences, while in Summer it will help prevent the leaves from getting dried out and baked in the scorching sun. In my experience, cherry tree leaves are not able to handle intense sun in hot dry conditions as well as other stone fruit trees (sweet cherry originates from another part of the world with a more northerly temperate climate). Trying to grow cherry in climate zone 10 can be just as challenging (maybe more) as many other kinds of tropical fruit here.

Temperate Fruit Discussion / Re: Love the Fig
« on: October 21, 2016, 06:26:29 PM »
I have had zero luck with figs in So. Fla. I gave up and pulled them all.
Strange, they're one of the few fruits that pretty much grows like weeds in Southern California.

Is anyone here growing 'Karp's Sweet' Quince? (It's supposedly the best variety for eating raw, but only when grown in warm climates like Southern California)

I have a tree but it has not produced fruits yet. And I haven't heard any updates from anyone else about this variety for several years.
Anyone growing it and can comment on the fruit?

By the way, if you're in a more northern climate, the best varieties are probably Krimskaya and Aromatnaya, the latter of which is a bit softer but not as good flavor.

Quince has an amazing aroma, for those of you who may not know, and the flavor of the raw fruit is unique. Of course, quince is usually dense, spongy, and most often too astringent to eat raw. It's important to point out though that some varieties are better than others in this regard, and the level of ripeness which the fruit attains can make a big difference. Trying to eat raw quince is not for everyone, but supposedly the variety Karp's Sweet could change all that. In Latin American countries quince is typically sliced very thin and served with a chili vinegar sauce with crushed peanuts. I also think the quinces grown in Latin American countries tend to be less astringent than the traditional normal American varieties, but that could just be the warmer climate. It's hard to know since quince in Latin America are very often heirloom varieties grown from seed.

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