Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Fort Pierce, Florida » U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory » Subtropical Insects and Horticulture Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #308555

Research Project: Genetic Improvement of Citrus for Enhanced Resistance to Biotic and Abiotic Stresses

Location: Subtropical Insects and Horticulture Research

Title: Breeding "sweet oranges" at the USDA US Horticultural Research Laboratory

Author
item Stover, Eddie
item Driggers, Randall
item Hearn, C
item Bai, Jinhe
item McCollum, Thomas
item Baldwin, Elizabeth - Liz
item Hall, David

Submitted to: Acta Horticulturae
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/15/2015
Publication Date: 11/25/2016
Citation: Stover, E., Driggers, R., Hearn, C.J., Bai, J., Baldwin, E., McCollum, T.G., Hall, D.G. 2016. Breeding "sweet oranges" at the USDA U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory. Acta Horticulturae. 1127:41-44. https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1127.7.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1127.7

Interpretive Summary: The sweet orange is the most extensively planted tree fruit in the world. Sweet orange is not a true species, like an apple or a plum, but a cross between several species. The different types of sweet oranges (navels, blood oranges, etc.) are sports or mutations selected over generations of propagating the original hybrid. Leading sweet orange varieties have traits that are much-appreciated by consumers. Unfortunately sweet orange also has some serious problems, especially high susceptibility to the disease huanglongbing (also known as citrus greening). Plant breeders have attempted to create improved sweet oranges for decades. However, plants from sweet orange crossed with sweet orange reportedly do not have sweet-orange-like traits, and some breeders reported no sweet-orange-like hybrids despite numerous crosses. In 1989 USDA/ARS released ‘Ambersweet’ [(‘Clementine’ x ‘Orlando’) x Sweet Orange], which was noteworthy in its resemblance to sweet orange. Chemical and sensory evaluations resulted in acceptance of ‘Ambersweet’ as a “sweet orange”, and it was widely planted in Florida, but suffered from low productivity. A new generation of sweet-orange-like hybrids are under evaluation, all with ‘Ambersweet’ as a parent. Aroma compound profiles of these hybrids were compared to ‘Ambersweet’ and ‘Hamlin’ sweet orange. The profiles of five of the hybrids were closer to ‘Hamlin’ than is ‘Ambersweet’ and are also sweet-orange-like in appearance and from informal sensory panel analysis. One hybrid peels more easily than sweet orange. Several conventional hybrids in the USDA breeding program are displaying considerable tolerance to huanglongbing, with some ‘Clementine’ x ‘Orlando’ hybrids among the most promising. The new sweet-orange-like hybrids are currently being challenged with huanglongbing in replicated trials. ‘Ambersweet’ has a number of very desirable characteristics that it often transmits to its progeny. ‘Ambersweet’ and its selected progeny have become important parents in the USDA citrus scion breeding program.

Technical Abstract: The sweet orange is the most extensively planted tree fruit in the world. Sweet orange is an interspecific hybrid rather than a true species. Cultivars are mutations selected over generations (possibly millennia) of clonally propagating the original hybrid. Leading sweet orange cultivars have traits that are much-appreciated by consumers, and commercial producers/processors have a hard-won understanding of optimal handling. Unfortunately sweet orange also has some serious problems, especially high susceptibility to the disease huanglongbing. Plant breeders have attempted to create improved sweet oranges for decades. However, hybrids from sweet orange crossed with sweet orange reportedly do not have sweet-orange-like traits, and some breeders reported no sweet-orange-like hybrids despite numerous crosses. In 1989 USDA/ARS released ‘Ambersweet’ [(‘Clementine’ x ‘Orlando’) x Sweet Orange], which was noteworthy in its resemblance to sweet orange. Chemical and organoleptic evaluations resulted in acceptance of ‘Ambersweet’ as a “sweet orange”, and it was widely planted in Florida, but suffered from low productivity. A new generation of sweet-orange-like hybrids are under evaluation, all with ‘Ambersweet’ as a parent. Volatile profiles were compared to ‘Ambersweet’ and ‘Hamlin’ sweet orange. The profiles of five of the hybrids were closer to ‘Hamlin’ than is ‘Ambersweet’ and are also sweet-orange-like in appearance and from informal sensory panel analysis. One hybrid peels more easily than sweet orange. Several conventional hybrids in the USDA breeding program are displaying considerable tolerance to huanglongbing, with some ‘Clementine’ x ‘Orlando’ hybrids among the most promising. The new sweet-orange-like hybrids are currently being challenged with huanglongbing in replicated trials. ‘Ambersweet’ has a number of very desirable characteristics that it often transmits to its progeny. Since it is also non-apomictic, it is an excellent female parent to use in developing sweet-orange-like hybrids. ‘Ambersweet’ and its selected progeny have become important parents in the USDA citrus scion breeding program.