Satsumas are the first mandarins to ripen in Southern Africa, providing an early foot in the door to markets. However, they do come with significant challenges. Citrus Research International (CRI) conducts cultivar trials to evaluate cultivar suitability to various climatic regions. Cultivar ripening windows, production and fruit quality are evaluated over a number of seasons, often spanning eight years. A cultivar trial was established in Citrusdal to evaluate the climatic suitability of this region for Satsuma production. Cultivars Aoshima, Belabela, Imamura, Miho Wase, Miyagawa Wase, Sugiyama and Ueno were imported to SA over time and introduced to the Citrus Improvement Scheme (CIS). These are open cultivars, apart from Belabela which is managed by cultivar agent Citrus Genesis.
The objective was to evaluate Satsuma cultivars for their suitability in a cool, inland production region. Important characteristics for a successful cultivar include consistent productivity, fruit size, rind colour, peelability, internal fruit quality (°Brix, acidity and ratio), seedlessness and an extended harvest period.
Werner Swiegers and Prof. Paul Cronjé (Citrus Research International)