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Ongoing project

Evaluation of new citrus varieties 2017-2022 (CT17006)

Key research provider: NSW Department of Primary Industries

What’s it all about?

Beginning in December 2017, this investment is carrying on the work to rapidly and independently assess new citrus varieties under local conditions – providing industry with objective performance data. It is a continuation of earlier levy investments, including the project Evaluating new citrus varieties 2013-17 (CT12026).

Knowledge from the evaluation work is brought to growers through field walks, fruit variety displays and other industry events, while information sheets describing the horticultural performance of all varieties evaluated are also produced.

  • During the 2019/20 summer, seven citrus varieties completed evaluation and exited the program.
  • Throughout 2020, two new mandarins were included in the evaluation program. One of these mandarins is said to mature late in the season and may be of particular interest for growers looking to harvest a mandarin after the Afourer season. Three mandarins from Florida were also included in the program in November 2020, with grafted trees to be planted as they come up to size. These varieties claim to have HLB tolerance and may form part of Australia’s defense against this disease.
  • The project has evaluated a range of new Valencia oranges for both fresh and process markets, looking at aspects such as the acid ratio, juice percentage and number of seeds per fruit.
  • The project was able to present an update to the South Australian citrus growers’ group in mid-June, via Zoom, covering early mandarin and navel performance with videos of the varieties in the field, juice results and maturity timing calendars. This was an improvisation due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • A suite of 43 new and updated variety information sheets have been released. The sheets present the estimated maturity window in the Riverina and Sunraysia, internal quality in that maturity window (Brix°, acid %, ratios, skin thickness, number of seeds), general comments, and juice results from representative seasons. The sheets are accessible via the NSW DPI website.
  • An article was published by the Citrus Australia Variety and Rootstock Committee titled “Will you have a home for your future fruit?” The article outlined many of the most important considerations when choosing a new variety to plant and was published in Citrus News, Winter 2020 edition.



See the 42 fact sheets, available on the NSW DPI website under the ‘rootstocks and varieties’ tab.

View the article Will you have a home for your future fruit? Published on page 22 in the Citrus News, Winter 2020 edition.

The project team progressed the independent evaluation of new citrus varieties for Australian growers, with key findings shared with industry and growers via field walks, fruit displays, seminars and presentations.

Most recently, at the trial site in Dareton NSW, three mandarin varieties added to the program last year produced their second crops. The harvest data provided insight to maturity timing, with all three showing indications that they are most likely to fruit in mid-late April. It was observed that the Sonet variety was very badly damaged from sunburn, which will need to be managed by heavy thinning in the 2019/2020 season.

Four new citrus varieties were added to the program, including three mandarin varieties from Florida and a late maturing navel orange from South Africa. All are Plant Breeders Rights (PBR) varieties and will first be propagated in the hothouse to test for trueness-to-type and budwood multiplication.

During the 2019/20 summer, decisions will be made about the varieties that are due to exit the evaluation program. 

Over recent months, the project team welcomed representatives from more than 30 major citrus industry groups to the trial site. Most visitors were interested to see the performance of specific varieties, or sub-class (e.g. processing oranges, late navel oranges, etc.). The success of local red-fleshed navel mutation ‘Villa 11’ continued to be popular with international visitors.

Presentations have been made at industry events including the Citrus Australia Technical forum in Adelaide, the Griffith Juice Forum, and the Western Australia Citrus Industry tour.

The project team has reported progress in the following activities:

New mandarin varieties

Five new mandarin varieties have been taken on by the program for evaluation in the last six months:

  • Kinnow low seeded
  • Daisy Seedless (California)
  • Sugar Belle
  • C4-15-19 tangerine
  • M8.

Kinnow (seeded) is a very popular variety in the Punjab regions of Pakistan and India, so a low seeded version is being evaluated as a potential export opportunity for Australian growers to provide counter seasonal supply into Asia.  Sugar Belle and C4-15-19 tangerine are mandarins that are believed to have Huanglongbing (HLB) tolerance.

Completed evaluations

Two varieties – a pummelo (Pomelit) and a mandarin/blood orange hybrid (Mandared)—have completed their evaluation. 

Ongoing evaluations

The performance of new citrus varieties is still progressing. Horticultural performance of new citrus varieties is proceeding. New mandarins produced fruit for the first time in 2018, providing initial data that will need to be confirmed in subsequent seasons.

The new Valencia-type oranges are still being evaluated. Those fruiting for the first time are:

  • Midnight SL (Night Sky)
  • Ruby
  • Weipe SL
  • McClean SL
  • Lavelle
  • Benny.

Information sheets on the new varieties are being developed or updated in line with the latest season’s results.


See the slides from a short presentation 'Citrus variety update' given by the research team here.

The project team report that for the 2017/2018 propagation and grafting season, 11 new varieties were top-worked to Valencia oranges on a range of rootstocks within the variety evaluation block at NSW DPI’s Dareton Primary Industries Institute. These new varieties include mandarins, grapefruit, an ornamental navel, plus an Italian lemon, and they join some 40 varieties already established as part of the evaluation work.

For 2018, there are 14 previously top-worked varieties that are expected to fruit for the first time, allowing fruit quality, maturity period and other data to begin being collated. These varieties include…


  • Midknight 115-1717
  • Ruby
  • Weipe
  • Mclean
  • Lavalle
  • Benny


  • Star Ruby (early and late varieties)
  • Jackson (Sweet Sunrise)


  • Witkrans
  • Rayno
  • Glen Ora


  • USDA 88-2
  • Sonet
  • CSIRO 91-03-04

Look for updates in industry channels as the project progresses.

Related levy funds

This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Citrus Fund