Now is the Time

By Eunice Messner

One of the questions we find difficult to answer is: What fruit trees do well near the coast in Orange County or have coastal influence? Frank James thinks because coastal areas don't experience frost and have very few take-away hours above 65 degrees, they get more chill than inland trees. So, the 300 to 400 hours of chill for Orange County may apply to the coast.

Inland, however, our very warm January wiped out most of our previously accumulated hours and we ended up with maybe only 150 to 200 hours of chill this year. Of course, lack of heat near the coat poses a different growing problem.

We would appreciate hearing from members who live near the coast or have consider-able coastal influence so we
can include this information on our web page. Respond by email to or bring your list to me at the next meeting.


I have been picking up to 12 pints every other day of the 'Tropical' blackberries inflicted with Red Berry Mite. I had sprayed Neem when new growth started and it seems to have had some redeeming effect. The late 'Triple Crown' thornless blackberries have hardly put on a new leaf. I think they require more winter chill.


Craig Keelsen, writing for the U.C. Extension "Topics in Subtropics" newsletter had this to say: "For many varieties of citrus, pollinators such as honey bees, native bees, wasps, flies and other insects and mites are not necessary for fruit production. In some of these varieties the presence of pollinators will not increase seediness. A few examples are 'navel' orange, 'Delta Valencia' orange, 'Tahiti' lime and 'Satsuma' mandarin, which are male (pollen) and female (ovule) sterile and will have very few if any seeds. In these groves honeybees, with no risk of additional fruit seediness, can harvest pollen and nectar. Navel orange remains the dominate variety in the San Joaquin Valley and since it's pollen sterile, will have a few seeds and the presence of pollinators, such as bees, will do little to increase

Other varieties of citrus will produce fruit without pollination and remain seed-less if not cross-pollinated by pollen from a different citrus cultivar. However, bees bearing pollen from neighboring citrus cultivars may produce very seedy fruit. Many tangors, mandar-ins and tangelos fall into this category.

A few varieties of citrus like the 'Star Ruby' grapefruit and some grapefruit x pummelo hybrids require only the stimulus of pollination to produce fruit even though this stimulation will not result in seed production. For varieties like this, pollinators are not only desirable but also economically necessary.

Some varieties of citrus will set and produce commercially acceptable fruit yields only if cross-pollinated and only if seeds are produced. Unfortunately, if these cultivars are allowed to cross-pollinate, fruit in this category can be excessively seedy. Plant scientists have discovered that some of these cultivars like the 'Clemenules Clementine' and some other Clementine cultivars, can be artificially stimulated into fruit production with-out pollination by foliar sprays during bloom with the plant growth regulator gibberellic acid. When sprayed with gibberellic acid, no pollen is involved and the fruit remains seed-less. Gibberellic-treated fruit acts as if it had been pollinated and remains on
the tree through harvest. However, these trees must still be isolated from either pollinators or other varieties of citrus producing fertile pollen."

Craig also mentioned the conflict with commercial growers who bring in hives of bees. For instance, the bees of a neighbor growing melons who lives adjacent to a 'Clementine and W. Murcott Alourer' mandarin grove would cause undesirable seediness. There is world-wide consumer demand for these cultivars and most growers do not want to change.

Some of the new varieties of mandarins, similar to the 'Star Ruby' grapefruit, actually require pollination by bees for seedless fruit production. These new mandarins include; Shasta Gold' 'Tahoe Gold', 'Yosemite Gold' and 'Gold Nugget'. These varieties mature later than 'Clementine' and ' W. Murcott Alourer' and are not an option for the early mandarin market.

Answers to your fruit growing questions are at your finger tips with these
on-line services: CRFG's webpage Has lots of information and links to Bill Grimes, plus his amazing research skills, answers umpteen questions daily Riley Holly has made Orange County a star with this web page Leo Manuel, a CRFG member, posts answers to questions bi-monthly A new chat-room type of service with Larry Mallach Hosted by Bob Cannon from tropical Florida Any question of general interest will be answered and published in the "Ask
the Experts" column of the "Fruit Gardener".