The term “mandarin” refers to Citrus reticulate , sometimes called “kid-glove oranges,” and is characterized by deep orange skin with easy peeling and separation into sections. The fruit originated in China, hence its name. Tangerines, a type of mandarin, originated in the 1800s and refer to sweet mandarins shipped from the Port of Tangiers, Morocco.
The wide use of the term ‘tangerine’ for ‘mandarin’ has led to some confusion, though not nearly as much as the very popular Clementine. Clementines are a type of mandarin orange with a murky past: one scholar believed the varietal originated in North Africa, but another convinced most modern botanists the petite oranges probably came from the Canton region of China. The fruit was brought to Florida in the early 1900s and then to California a few years later.
Shaped like slightly flattened spheres with thin, leathery skin, mandarin rinds go from relatively smooth to bumpy as the fruit matures and separates from the interior flesh, giving the delectables their easy-peel reputation. Another type of mandarin, the satsuma, originated in Japan. Introduced to Florida in the 1870s, saplings were planted along the Gulf Coast in the early 1900s. Subsequent freezes limited the states that could successfully produce the fruit, with California, Florida, Texas, and Arizona taking the lead. California accounts for more than three-quarters of U.S. supply; globally, China is the leading mandarin/tangerine producer.
References: Purdue University, UC Davis Postharvest Technology website, University of Florida/IFAS Extension.
TYPES, VARIETIES & CUTS
Fruit falls into three categories or classes: mandarins, tangerines, and satsumas—though the differences have more to do with origin and type of tree than the fruit produced. The most popular varieties are Sumo, Satsuma, Clementine, Dancy, Honey, Minneola Tangelo, Pixie, and Sunburst. Other varieties include Emperor, Golden Nugget, Kara, Le-dar, Oneco, Owari, Ponkan, Robinson, Sugar Belle, Super Nova, and Wase.
Roughly 70 percent of U.S. mandarins/tangerines are destined for the fresh market. The remaining 30 percent are processed for juice, canned sections, or for sweetening and coloring additives to orange or grapefruit juice.
References: Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, Purdue University, University of Florida/IFAS Extension.
PESTS & DISEASE
Common diseases that affect mandarin varieties are chaff scale, citrus greening, citrus canker, green and blue mold, stem-end rot, brown rot, anthracnose, alternaria brown spot, citrus scab, greasy spot, sooty mold, and phytophthora.
Pests of concern include the Asian citrus psyllid, diaprepes root weevil, light brown apple moth, aphids, brown garden snails, leafminers, citrus rust mites, European earwigs, rose beetles, glassy-winged sharpshooters, and fire ants.
References: Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, UC Davis Postharvest Technology website, University of California Integrated Pest Management.