unshiu Marc.) are among the
most cold hardy citrus varieties that have sufficient fruit quality for
potential commercial marketing as well as for homeowners outside the
typical citrus belt in the Lower Rio Grande Valley (Mortensen, 1983).
Satsuma mandarin was first reported in Japan more than 700 years ago
where it is now the major cultivar grown, but more than likely it
originated in China (Ferguson, 1996).
The first recorded introduction
into the United States was in Florida by George R. Hall in 1876
(Ferguson, 1996). The name "satsuma" is credited to the wife of the
United States minister to Japan, General Van Valkenberg, who sent trees
home in 1878 from Satsuma where it was believed to have originated
(Ferguson, 1996). While this fruit is grown primarily for fresh
consumption, a portion of the crop is canned as fruit segments or juice
in Japan, China and Spain. In these countries, deeply colored juice is
blended with orange juice to improve color or sold as single-strength
tangerine juice. Fresh fruit is also imported into Canada and
non-citrus producing areas of the U.S., where it is the earliest
seasonal citrus crop to reach the market (Ferguson, 1996).
Approximately one million 'Owari' satsuma trees were imported from
Japan (1908-1911) and planted throughout the lower Gulf Coast states
from the northern Florida Gulf coast to Texas, where an extensive
tangerine industry developed (Ferguson, 1996).
Click image to enlarge
The earliest citrus in Texas was from seed planted in dooryards by the
early settlers (Mortensen, 1983). The coastal area near Houston and
Beaumont had a citrus "boom" until February, 1911, when the temperature
dropped to 8oF
at Alvin. Most growers were lucky to save 10
percent of their trees. This was followed by the 1915 hurricane, so the
Texas Orchard Development Company moved its operations to the Lower Rio
Grande Valley where a railroad had recently been built. The Texas
Experiment Station at Beeville was also growing citrus and reported
success with satsumas in a publication in 1909. There were an estimated
800 acres of trees in the Winter Garden (Uvalde-Crystal City-Pearsall)
in 1945. (Mortensen, 1983).
Satsumas have been observed to tolerate temperatures of 12 to 14
degrees F. without injury if trees are totally dormant and the
temperature doesn't remain there more than 3 hours (Ferris and
Richardson; 1923, Mortensen, 1983; Ferguson, 1996). Most of the
commonly grown citrus such as grapefruits, oranges and satsumas, can
withstand prolonged exposure to temperatures of 23 degrees F. For every
ten hours' exposure to temperatures under 23 degrees F., there is a
three-inch increase in diameter of wood that is killed. Satsumas do
freeze more slowly at first, but in severe freezes over a long period of
time show exactly the same response as other oranges or mandarins.
Because of their low total heat requirement, some satsuma cultivars
ripen earlier than most other citrus. Hence, the satsuma is ideally
adapted to regions with winters too cold for most citrus fruit but with
growing seasons warm enough to produce fruit of early maturity and good
quality. (Ferguson, 1996).
J. J. 1996. The Satsuma Tangerine. University of Florida Fact Sheet. HS
E. B. and F. B. Richardson. 1923. The Satsuma Orange in South
Mississippi. Ms. Ag. Exp. Sta. Bul. No. 217.
(Valencia Institute for Agricultural Research). 1987. Mandarin Tree
Varieties-Okitsu. Moncada, Valencia, Spain.
Ernest. 1983. Personal communication.
Horticulture Color Chart, The Royal Horticulture Society.
J.W. 1998. Home Fruit Production-Mandarin; Texas
Cooperative Extension, The Texas A & M University System.