Farm Focus: In Search of Seedless Clementines - Grafting Mandarins


As much as we love the citrus from our partner growers, and are thankful our Bay Area CSA can partner with such amazing farmers, we will be excited when our mandarins start producing and we can contribute more Frog Hollow Farm fruit to the winter CSA boxes.  We are actively working on making that happen and as novice citrus growers, learning as we go. 

We planted one acre of mixed varieties of mandarins about two years ago.  We chose the varieties for both flavor and for harvest timing in order to have delicious mandarins from December-April.  These trees are now in their "third leaf".  Last year, on a separate parcel of newly acquired ground, we planted an additional six acres of seven types of mandarins as well as more blood oranges and Meyer lemons in order step up our citrus game.

Luckily for us, Rachel did some additional research on mandarins and we learned that clementines, a favorite mandarin variety, should not be planted with other mandarins. When clementines cross-pollinate with other varieties, all of the varieties will become very seedy, an undesirable trait. 

We definitely want to keep clementines in our harvest mix so are feeling grateful that our mandarin parcels ended up separated in the configuration we have. Last week, we had a team of two bud-grafting all of the trees in the one acre parcel of mandarins over to clementines. We will subsequently graft all of the clementines in the 6-acre parcel over to other varieties. Phew! Disaster averted. 

Citrus is slow growing so we don't expect to see any substantial production for another few years but it’s lucky for us all that our partner growers have excellent fruit! Look forward to Churchill-Brenneis’ famous Ojai Pixie tangerines in a CSA box soon!

Farm FocusLael Gerhart