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William S. Castle, James C. Baldwin and Ronald P. Muraro

‘Hamlin’ is a principal sweet orange grown in Florida for processing. It is productive but produces juice with low soluble solids content and poor color. A long-term trial was conducted in central Florida to determine rootstock effects on yield and juice quality and the effect of economic analysis on the interpretation of the horticultural results. The trees were a commonly used commercial selection of ‘Hamlin’ sweet orange [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osb.] propagated on 19 rootstocks planted in a randomized complete block design of three-tree plots with six replicates in a Spodosol soil at a density of 350 trees/ha. Routine horticultural data were collected from the original trial (H1) for 10 years. Trees on some rootstocks that grew and yielded poorly were removed within a few years and replaced with a second trial (H2) with 13 rootstocks from which data were collected for 5 years. The H1 data were financially analyzed to compare the relative usefulness of horticultural and economic data in interpreting results and making rootstock decisions. In H1 after 10 years, tree height ranged from greater than 5 m [Volkamer lemon (C. volkameriana Ten. & Pasq.)] and Cleopatra mandarin (C. reshni Hort. ex Tan.) to 2.4 m {Flying Dragon trifoliate orange [Poncirus trifoliata (L.) Raf. ]}. In H2, the trees on somatic hybrid rootstocks were ≈2 m tall after 8 years and 4.4 m among those on mandarins and C-32 citrange (C. sinensis × P. trifoliata). Tree losses from citrus blight were generally low except for the trees on Carrizo and Troyer citranges (greater than 50%). Horticulturally, the highest performing trees in H1, measured by cumulative yield and soluble solids production over 10 years, were those on Carrizo, Troyer, and Benton citranges; poor performers were those on Smooth Flat Seville and Kinkoji (putative sour orange hybrids). Fruit yield and soluble solids production were directly related to tree height regardless of the difference among rootstocks in juice quality. The same relationship existed among the trees in H2 in which the best rootstocks were C-32 and Morton citranges. Trees on Swingle citrumelo (C. paradisi Macf. × P. trifoliata) ranked no. 12 of 19 rootstocks and 9 of 13 rootstocks in H1 and H2, respectively. Financial interpretation of the outcomes to include tree replacement resulting from blight losses did not substantially change the horticultural interpretations. Additional financial analyses demonstrated that the performance of trees on rootstocks with relatively low productivity/tree, like those on C-35 citrange and Kinkoji, would equal those on more vigorous rootstocks when tree vigor was properly matched with spacing. Yield determined the economic outcomes and financial analysis aided the interpretation of rootstock horticultural effects but did not greatly alter the relationship among rootstock results. Highly significant correlations between annual and cumulative data indicated that relative rootstock performance among ‘Hamlin’ orange trees in Florida could be reliably determined based on the first 4 cropping years.

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William S. Castle, James C. Baldwin, Ronald P. Muraro and Ramon Littell

Two field experiments with ‘Valencia’ sweet orange [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osb.] trees propagated on 12 rootstocks were conducted in commercial orchards. The objectives were to compare rootstock horticultural performance between two locations with soils representative of the Central Florida Ridge (AP) and coastal flatwoods (I), the major citrus-growing regions in Florida, and to see if financial analysis would provide an improved basis for interpreting rootstock performance. The randomized complete-block trials involved six-tree plots replicated eight or 10 times at planting densities of 358 trees (AP) or 252 trees (I)/ha, respectively. Tree growth and survival, yield, and juice quality were measured for 15 years. When losses occurred, trees were replaced annually with another one on the same rootstock. The data of seven rootstocks were subjected to a financial interpretation of three scenarios: tree loss and tree loss with or without tree replacement using the discounted cash flow and internal rate of return methods at a 15% rate. At the flatwoods location, when differences among replications became apparent on several rootstocks, soil data were collected to study its possible association to tree performance; also in this trial, 400-kg fruit samples were differentially harvested in 2 successive years from mature trees on each of five commercial rootstocks when the juice soluble solids/acid ratio was near 15. The juice was extracted, pasteurized, and evaluated for flavor by an experienced taste panel. The horticultural data obtained for trees on specific well-studied rootstocks [Volkamer (C. volkameriana Ten. & Pasq.)] and rough (C. jambhiri Lush.) lemons, Carrizo citrange [C. sinensis × Poncirus trifoliata (L.)], sour orange [C. aurantium (L.)], Cleopatra mandarin (C. reshni Hort. ex Tan.), trifoliate orange (P. trifoliata), a selection of sweet orange (C. sinensis), and Swingle citrumelo (C. paradisi Macf. × P. trifoliata) at both locations were typical of their well-documented performance in Florida and elsewhere. Tree losses were virtually only from citrus blight and ranged from none (sour orange) to greater than 50% (Volkamer and rough lemons) at both locations, although tree loss began later at the Central Florida location. ‘Valencia’ cuttings (only at the flatwoods site) were long-lived and cropped well for their smaller size compared with the budded trees. Taste panelists were not able to distinguish differences over two seasons among pasteurized ‘Valencia’ juices produced from trees on different rootstocks and normalized by soluble solids/acid ratio. Yield and planting density were the main factors affecting financial outcome; also, in the highly variable soils of the coastal flatwoods, trees growing in sites with greater depth to an argillic layer had 30% to 200% higher yields. Trees on Volkamer lemon had only ≈50% survival at both locations but had the highest ($7,338/ha I) or one of the highest cash flows ($13,464/ha AP) as compared with one of the commercial standards, Carrizo citrange ($6,928 I; $16,826 AP), which had only ≈25% tree loss. Inclusion of financial analysis, with certain limitations, was concluded to considerably improve rootstock selection decisions compared with selection based only on horticultural data.