Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Winter means Mandarins!


Lately i've been getting more interested in Mandarins. They are always rewarding with their tangy deliciousness when i have one, but i often overlook them when thinking of new trees for the garden. Another merit is that they fruit in winter when there is not much else out there in regards to fruit. 
I have had a currently have six Mandarins inground and one in a pot. The varieties are Satsuma, Scarlett Burgess, Miho, Silverhill, Encore, Clementine & Okitsu Wase.
The Satsuma is around 4 years old but is achingly unproductive & slow to grow. He is unfortunately planted under the canopy of my fig tree so during the all important growing season of spring & summer he is in shade. To add to his struggle he is on dwarf rootstock too so may never get to a decent size (I might have to move him). The fruit however is nice & sweet and of a medium/large size & very easy peel.
The Scarlett Burgess is a tree i transplanted from my old house. He is about four years old & on dwarf rootstock so is a fairly modest size (1.5m) but produces well. He is planted along the side of my house in my so-called "Citrus Hedge" along with about another ten trees. He gets good sun for most of the year and is pretty ha
ppy in his current position i would say. It is a rich-flavoured variety with highly coloured, aromatic, medium-sized fruit. Fruit ripens around mid July. It has a thin skin. The only issue with this tree is that its fruit tends to split it's skin in the autumn when the rain starts after a dry summer. The way to avoid this is to ensure consistent watering in the latter end of summer. This gradually stretches the skin of the juvenile fruit as it is growing to avoid too rapid expansion of the inside flesh as it swells with new rainwater, which in turn rips the skin apart.


The Miho is a Satsuma manderin it is a medium size tree with heavy crops of sweet juicy, easy to peel fruit, generally seedless fruit. This one has only been in the ground for about 1 year so is not yet very productive.
My Encore mandarin is a recent purchase that is a late season fruit so i can extend out the mandarin season. It is an easy peel, sweet juicy fruit, ripening early summer. Heavy producer, with the fruit holding on the tree over a long period.
My latest purchase was a Silverhill Mandarin. It is still in its pot it is an easy peel, smooth rind and attractive, flat shaped, seedless fruit. The fruit is low in acid and therefore really sweet and juicy. Ripens June.
Okitsu Wase is an early season Satsuma, in fact is the earliest ripening cultivar so is a good choice to help extend the season. The fruit is Seedless, Easy Peel, good rich flavour with low acid and high sugar.  The skin has smooth pale yellow peel, and plump, juicy flesh. Fruit size is fairly large for a Mandarin. Fruit is ripe & ready to eat late May.
Clementines are a hybrid between a mandarin and a sweet orange. The Clementine is not always easy to distinguish from varieties of Mandarins (although they are a more sphere-like), but through sampling you can clearly taste a difference.  Clementine oranges look like tiny versions of regular oranges, and they have a tart, tangy and rich sweet flavour.  The exterior is a deep orange colour with a smooth, glossy appearance. Clementines can be separated into 7 to 14 segments. They tend to be easy to peel. Clementines are a type of citrus called zipper-peel, which means the skin comes off very easily. They are almost always seedless when grown commercially (without cross-pollination)It ripens in NZ around June-July. It has good sized, sweet juicy fruit with very few seeds and a tangy flavour. Peels easily and cleanly. Generally crops well.




  1. I don't know what type of mandarin I have as I didn't plant it. I feed it with citrus fertilizer at the beginning of each season and it is laden with fruit. The branches almost touch the ground! However they are quite small. Do I need to feed them more often?

  2. Hi Helen. One thing i could suggest if your tree is laden with small fruit could be to "thin" the fruit. This is so your tree puts its energy to producing one good sized fruit instead of three mini-sized fruits. Take at least 1/3 of the crop off of a heavy fruit set. This is really hard to do and may seem like "tough love", pulling off all those tiny fruit, but they will be larger, and juicier, and a lot easier to pick and will be better quality.
    Another thing could be to check for pests and the resulting Sooty Mould. Sooty Mould can hinder photosynthesis and result in smaller fruit. Best solution for this would be a horticultural oil spray to smother the scale/whitefly/vine hoppers etc.
    Lastly you could consider pruning back your tree to a smaller size so it can concentrate its energy on a to a smaller space therefore better, bigger fruit. Good luck to your tree:)