The Q&A Archives: What has happened to my Owari mandarin??

Question: An Owari mandarin was planted in a full sunlight area in my yard in Banning in 1999. The tree was grown by LaVerne Nursery on Rubidoux trifoliate rootstock. It grew well vegetatively with a healthy appearance but set very few fruits. Normal easy peel mature fruits were rare. Fruit set was poor (2 or 3) in 2000 through '02 but mature flavor, peel, and color in December was good. Since then fruits have been seedy and sour. In '05 set has been abundant for the first time, of good size and color but all are again sour and seedy. I should also note that the tree appears to be excessively thorny!
I would appreciate your thoughts.

Answer: What you describe sounds very suspicious! 'Owari'has oblate to rounded, medium sized fruit with slightly rough peel, becoming lumpy and fluted with maturity. The pulp is orange, of rich, subacid flavor; nearly seedless, (sometimes 1-4 seeds). The tree is small, almost thornless, large-leaved, with faint or no wings on petioles. I wonder if the rootstock has overtaken the graft and you're not growing Owari at all. Check the grafted area and follow the branches back to the trunk. You may discover that the graft has died off.

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