The Nadorcott journey
More than forty years ago Murcott seedlings were planted at the INRA experimental station near the small town of Afourer in the Atlas mountain region of Morocco. Growers soon discovered that Murcott fruit loses its seeded character when bees do not pollinate the trees, and so the Nadorcott variety was developed.
The cultivar rights to Nadorcott mandarins are managed by the Nadorcott Protection Company in Morocco for the Northern Hemisphere, and by Citrogold in South Africa for the Southern Hemisphere. Only Citrogold can legally grant licenses to growers in South Africa, Australia, Argentina and Uruguay. The company also controls production of the cultivar through contracts with growers. All import and export licenses are handled by a growers’ club.
Moroccan fruit is marketed as Afourer, after the initial INRA-W21 selection that later became known as Afourer. In South Africa, the ClemenGold® trade name is used, but only for the finest Nadorcott fruit that meets specific strict quality criteria.
The ideal harvesting time for Nadorcott mandarins in the Southern Hemisphere is from mid-June to mid-August, when they are perfectly ripe and at their sweetest. In South Africa ClemenGold is allowed to ripen naturally in the orchard before being picked and packed by hand. Strict packaging standards are applied to ensure its peak condition, from source to shelf. Northern Hemisphere fruit is usually ready for picking in March.
A typical Nadorcott orchard is beautiful with neat, evenly spaced rows of strong and proudly upright trees. They grow straight and fast like Murcott and so vigorously that they can easily reach a height of 2.5m in two and a half years. When fruit set, the tree canopy naturally opens up to invite sunlight. Nadorcott has a flowering time and intensity similar to Clementine, but it is not as prolonged as the Nule variety.
The rootstocks best suited to grow Nadorcott mandarins, are Carrizo, Troyer and C35 citranges. Nadorcott trees are very precocious and can deliver huge amounts of fruit in a fairly short time. It is not unusual that 5kg of fruit is set per tree at 18 months and 20kg per tree at 30 months. Trees between five and eight years old can each yield between 40kg and 100kg, depending on their size and spacing. Ideally, growers should produce between 45 and 55 tons per hectare.