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Grapefruit hybrid that needs no sugar: 'Oroblanco.'

Grapefruit hybrid that needs no sugar: "Oroblanco'

New citrus varieties don't come along veryoften--developing a new hybrid can take up to 20 years. When one does, it's good news, particularly if the new fruit is an improvement over current choices. Such is the case with "Oroblanco', a new pummelo-grapefruit hybrid originating from a cross made in 1958 at the University of California at Riverside. It will be widely available in nurseries for the first time this spring.

Its fruit is slightly bigger than mostgrapefruit and has a thicker rind, characteristic of most pummelos. (The pummelo also has thicker skin around segments.)

The nearly seedless white flesh is veryjuicy and has a wonderful sweet grapefruit-like flavor, but without acidic bitterness common to many grapefruit. In taste tests conducted by the University of California, "Oroblanco' was favored 2 to 1 over the popular white-fleshed "Marsh' grapefruit. It can be eaten without sugar, and its juice is delicious.

How does it do in home gardens?

Home garden experience with "Oroblanco'is still sketchy, but one thing seems certain: its pummelo parentage contributed a lower heat requirement than is necessary to ripen most grapefruit. Gardeners in cooler regions, where grapefruit rarely hints of sweetness, should be able to harvest good-quality fruit from February to April. The sweetest fruit will develop in warmer inland areas, ripening from late November into March. "Oroblanco' appears to be a good choice for Sunset Western Garden Book zones 8, 9, 12 to 15, 18 to 23, and possibly 24. This includes Los Angeles and San Diego, and warmer spots around the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as inland. In low-elevation desert areas, where grapefruit reach peak quality, the fruit may be so low in acidity that it seems bland tasting to some. "Oroblanco' may be slightly less hardy than a grapefruit tree. Foliage will usually be damaged if temperatures fall much below 28| for extended periods.

Because of its larger, shinier leaves, withsmall wings at the base, the tree has a bolder texture than most other citrus. Grown on standard rootstock, "Oroblanco' is a spreading tree that, within 10 to 15 years, can reach more than 20 feet high and as wide; give it plenty of room to grow. On dwarfing rootstock, it will be 25 to 50 percent smaller.

Plant in a warm, sunny location with well-drainedsoil. Give the same care you would any citrus: regular water and several applications of nitrogen fertilizer from late winter to midsummer.

Photo: Intensely fragrant blossoms, deep greenleaves with winged bases, and yellow-skinned fruit characterize pummelo-grapefruit hybrid "Oroblanco'. About 4 feet tall, this three-year-old tree on standard rootstock is growing in a 15-gallon can

Photo: No sugar's needed on "Oroblanco' for eventhe toughest critic of tart grapefruit. Unlike thick-skinned pummelo, hybrid can be eaten like a grapefruit. Fruit can reach nearly 5 inches in diameter, but is often smaller on immature trees
COPYRIGHT 1987 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Apr 1, 1987
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