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clementines have seeds

Can citrus tree health affect the seed count in the fruit?

I have a Clementine Orange which used to produce pleasant fruit that was lightly seeded.

In the last few years, the number of seeds in each orange has increased dramatically. The tree has fallen to some neglect and I’m wondering if this could be related.

Does the health of a tree have any effect on the number of seeds it produces? Is there any way to affect how much seed an orange tree will produce, or is that strictly genetic?

3 Answers 3

The seediness of Clementine mandarins depends upon the availability of pollen from other citrus varieties when the tree is in bloom. Clementines are typically low seeded or seedless when grown in a large block of a single variety. However, if bees show up with pollen of certain other varieties, Clementines will become seedy. Pummelos, for example, have pollen that tends to induce seediness in other citrus varieties. The pollen of Navel Oranges does not tend to make other citrus fruit seedy. Farmers who grow mandarins now often turn to nets to keep bees away and to maintain seedlessness.

It seems likely that there is a new citrus tree within range of your Clementine tree that is producing pollen that is inducing seediness in your Clementines. If you net your tree at bloom time, you may expect to again have lightly seeded or seedless fruit.

More seeds is a sign of stress. The plant produces more seeds when the chances of survival (from the tree’s perspective) grow slimmer and slimmer. A well cared for, fertilized, pruned, and irrigated tree will have much better fruit with fewer seeds than a neglected tree.

So yes, with the tree ‘fallen to some neglect’, it makes logical sense that your tree has been producing seedy fruit. It is not strictly genetic.

Regular and proper fertilizing, irrigation, pruning, pest and disease control, and minerals (citrus trees love them) will help the tree to produce the highest quality fruit. Also, proper pH is necessary.

Can citrus tree health affect the seed count in the fruit? I have a Clementine Orange which used to produce pleasant fruit that was lightly seeded. In the last few years, the number of seeds

Which came first, the Clementine or the seed?

How sweet Clementine is this time of year, looking so pretty nestled in small wooden crates. How nice that these tangerines have no seeds to interrupt bites into the juicy, sweet segments.

But hold on a second here! As a gardener, don’t you wonder: Without seeds, how do you make a new Clementine tree? Or a seedless Navel tree? Or a tree of any other seedless fruit?
You make a new tree of any seedless fruit the same way that you make a new tree of any other fruit, by cloning. If cloning sounds too eerie, then say “by grafting” or “by cuttings,” friendlier terms for the particular methods of cloning used for most fruit trees.

Cloning is the way to create a new, genetically identical plant — another McIntosh apple tree, another Concord grape vine, or another Clementine tangerine tree — from existing plants.

Just take a piece of stem from any of these varieties and either graft it onto an existing plant or get the stem to form its own roots. The resulting plant — or the part of it above the graft in the case of the grafted plant — is then genetically identical to the original.

If, on the other hand, you were to plant a seed from any of the above fruits, the resulting plant would yield fruits unlike the fruit from which the seed was taken. What that fruit would be like would depend on how the particular combination of pollen and egg cells happened to jumble together in the seed you planted.

THE FIRST CLEMENTINE

That answers the question of how you make new Clementine trees, but not how the very first Clementine came about.

The first McIntosh apple tree grew from a seed. Once the superior qualities of the fruit that this seedling bore were recognized, then the tree was multiplied by grafting — and given the name McIntosh.

The first Clementine tree likewise began life as a seed, planted about a century ago by Father Clement Rodier, in Algiers. The genes within this new seedling, by chance, had jumbled together into an evolutionary dead end — a tree producing seedless fruits.

SEEDLESS? NOT ALWAYS

Crunch. I just bit into a seed in this supposedly seedless Clementine. Yes, seeds do occasionally appear, the result of pollen from a different variety of tangerine making its way to a Clementine flower.

Clementine is seedless only if grown in isolation. Don’t you be tempted to plant any of these seeds, though, because if the seedlings were to bear fruits, they would not, of course, be Clementines.

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Which came first, the Clementine or the seed? How sweet Clementine is this time of year, looking so pretty nestled in small wooden crates. How nice that these tangerines have no seeds to