The official presentation of the new mandarin Spring Sunhine, which is considered the latest variety in the market, and possibly the tastiest, took place in Valencia last Wednesday. The event exceeded the expectations of its organizers, the Association of Plant Variety Operators (Asovav) and The Enforcement Organization (TEO). So many people attended that it was necessary to rearrange the chairs in the auditorium of the Valencian Farmers Association (AVA-Asaja).
“We are very happy with the interest the sector has shown. Of the almost 100 kilos of mandarins that we brought for the tasting, only the peels remained.” Sources from AVA-Asaja told us that it’s been years since the presentation of a variety was so successful,” says David Alba, general director of TEO, exclusive licensee of the variety in Spain.
The Spring Sunshine mandarin is the result of an induced mutation of Murcott mandarins achieved through irradiation. It has been developed by the Agricultural Research Organization (ARO) of Israel.
It is considered the best mutation of the Murcott mandarin officially registered and stands out for its harvest schedule, which is the latest in the Spanish market. It runs from mid-March to mid-May.
Also worth noting is the colour of this variety, as well as its intense, very sweet flavour and excellent juice content (more than 50%). According to David Alba, its Brix ranges between 15 and 17 degrees, making it one of the sweetest citrus fruits there is. “So far, I have always considered Orri mandarins as the tastiest on the market, but now, in my opinion, this variety could equal it or even be better when it comes to taste,” he says. “The first distributors who have already marketed it agree with this.”
The new variety aims to reach premium and gourmet markets. In fact, it has already been sold as such by Marks & Spencer and packaged in lines such as Tesco’s Finest. “It is a variety that comes at a time when there are hardly any mandarins on the European market, so it is very versatile, since it meets all expectations,” he explains. “We are receiving very good feedback from the importers and supermarkets that have already sold this variety in the United States, Australia and South America,” he added.
Unlike its parent (Murcott), whose pollinating potential is 92%, the Spring Sunshine only reaches 6% and contains fewer seeds, since under normal circumstances, when cross pollination occurs, between 0 and 3 seeds can be found per fruit.
The prices paid at origin currently range between 60 and 90 cents per kilo on average. The variety has already achieved a notable international development, with more than 2,000 hectares planted in Israel, Australia, South Africa and Peru, among other territories.
In order to ensure it is marketed appropriately, TEO has established a maximum limit of 700,000 trees in Spain.
The producers who are already cultivating it have two deadlines for the acquisition of the official license: until 31 August, with a cost of 12 Euro per tree, to be paid in 3 annual instalments, and from September and until December, with a minimum of 20 Euro per tree. From the 1st of January of 2019, legal action will be taken against those who have not yet obtained the necessary license.
As of 2019, there are plans to create the Spring Sunshine Committee (SRC) for the control, legal defence and promotion of the variety; an entity that will be funded by the licensees with the payment of up to 3 cents per kilo of fruit distributed under the official label.