The Great Citrus Experiment

Introduction

Since moving to Louisiana, and having spent our first winter here, we have discovered the Satsuma. If you do not know what a Satsuma is, then I truly feel sorry for you. I have to admit that while I enjoy orange juice, I 100% do not like oranges. Oranges are such a pain in the butt to peel and get all over your hands. When you finally get it all peeled, its generally pretty meh.

Satsuma’s are an entirely different ballgame. People in Louisiana quite clearly know what Satsumas are but for some reason they haven’t moved out of this state that much. Satsumas are the easiest thing to peel ever. In fact you can peel the entire thing in one single go with the entire peel intact. It takes about a second, and when you’re done your hands aren’t even remotely sticky.

So where am I going with this? We planted two of them in the front (not really knowing too much about them) and I’ve decided I want MORE. Lots more. Ontop of this because of the National Citrus Quarantines the Citrus selection in Louisiana is pretty rough. There is only a handful of varieties, and whats here, is whats here. I would be OK with that except my favorite Citrus is Grapefruit. The only grapefruits sold in Louisiana (that I know of) is Rio Red and Ruby Red. Turns out, I completely dislike Red and “Ruby” grapefruits. They’re way too sweet, where as the white and pink grapefruits are amazing. Oddly enough some people do have them and we found them at the farmers market this winter, so we started saving seed.

If you did not know this, most Citrus varieties grow true to type. Meaning, more than likely a seed that you get from a fruit will actually be a mirror copy of that original plant. Turns out Satsumas and Grapefruits grow true to type…

Planting Seeds

I have waited around about planting these citrus seeds until I had the proper and right equipment to get good germination of Citrus seeds. Reading online indicates that you need warm temperatures, lots of light, and lots of moisture. I bought one of these Green House trays that come with a cover and a heating mat to take care of the germination needs of these seeds.

I decided that I was going to germinate mostly Satsumas, then some Grapefruits, and then a bunch of Trifoliate Oranges to use for rootstocks. You can see in the picture below that I put a piece of masking tape under the columns that correspond to each seed type. I ended up planting 30 Satsumas, 18 Grapefruits, and 24 Trifoliate Orange.

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Just before pushing the seeds under.

Once I put all the seeds in and covered them over, I put the lid on, put the tray on a heating mat and put it under my germination lights. (4 T-5 florescent lights).

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The seeds all setup and ready to go under the grow lights.

Conclusion

Well this is just part 1 of this Citrus experiment. I expect that I may not know which trees are worth keeping and then grafting for another 7 years. Looking around line says that it takes about 7 years for a Citrus tree from seed to start producing fruits, or at least producing fruits well. The one thing I will say that I wish I did differently was putting to the side the Satsumas that tasted the best. Some weren’t as good as others, so perhaps I might be growing a few trees with Meh fruits. Oh well, it should be interesting.

I’ll update on this once I get some germination going. I did plant a few Grapefruit seeds in some pots about a month ago and they’ve recently germinated! Very cool stuff. I haven’t been so successful with Trifoliate Oranges. I tried germinating about 30 of them and none of them came up (I think lack of regular/even moisture is the reason).

4 thoughts on “The Great Citrus Experiment

  1. Christine

    Actually the joke is that they aren’t well known out the state because we don’t want to share them (or so I have heard at work).

    1. Mike

      The goats are mildly hesitant about eating new foods. They destroyed the peels. I have used it as a gateway “drug” to eating grapefruit peels.

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