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A forum about growing citrus and tending citrus orchards, discuss the myriads of citrus varieties, and cooking and processing citrus fruit

Dekopon citrus

Postby RodneyS » Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:46 am

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Today's Los Angeles Times Food section had an interesting article on the increasing availability of Dekopon citrus. It will be sold as "Sumo". The Dekopon is a hybrid of Kiyomi tangor (a cross of orange and satsuma mandarin) and a ponkan. The reporter wrote "I've tasted more than 1,000 varieties of citrus, and to me the Dekopon is the most delicious.".

Does anyone have any experiences with Dekopon?

Re: Dekopon citrus

Postby Axel » Thu Feb 17, 2011 2:03 pm

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You can find a link to David Karp's LA Times the article below. As per usual, beautiful writing from David Carp, he's a good food blogger.

The Dekopon arrives in California
A consortium of growers secretly began harvesting the flavorful fruit, which originated in Japan. It is being marketed here under the name Sumo.

Image

OK, now be aware: this is yet another fruit marketing hype, and don't get swept away by it. It's good that they are doing this, because this is what it takes to get the public interested in a new fruit. But don't get caught up by the hype and start hunting down this fruit, it's too early for it to make it in the home garden. I spoke to Gene Lester, he has tasted it when it was still available to the public at Lincove, before commercial interests got involved. He says it's a very good mandarins, one of the top, but not the "only" top one. The same hype was made around the Kishu mandarin when it was initially introduced.

Basically, the Dekopon is another name for the Shiranui mandarin, a Japanese hybrid of Kiyomi tangor (orange X satsuma mandarin) and a ponka mandarin.

Then Brad Stark Jr., a citrus grower in Strathmore, Calif. imported budwood, branches from Japan and paid UC Riverside to put the wood in quarantine and cleanse the variety of diseases. That's probably why it was available for tasting at Lincove.

But then, the Griffith family, the owners of Suntreat and TreeSource, bought the rights to the legal Dekopon budwood from Stark. That's probably why UC pulled access to the fruit from the public, and it was no longer available for tasting at Lincove. Now, finally, the new mandarin is going to the grocery shelves for consumers to enjoy, and that's what the David Carp article is all about.

Anyone can import this variety through legal means and have it cleaned of viruses, so it will be just a matter of time before the variety will become available to home gardeners. If not, I am sure budwood will show up in CRFG circles, so I would not bother to try to hunt it down right now. Wait for the hype to die down, it will eventually go the way of all the other "great" mandarins - yet another good variety to eat.

David Carp is good at creating hype around new fruit. That's his talent, and he did a magnificent job in this LA Times article. But taste is highly subjective. Some will like the fruit, others will not, that's simply the way it works with all fruit.

If you really want to taste the fruit, you will have to go to Whole Foods and shell out $3/lbs to try one. I am not sure it will make it all the way to Northern California. When I asked the store manager at the Santa Cruz Whole Foods, he hadn't heard anything about it. More than likely, it will only be available in Southern California, you can see the "Sumo" website for ore details, Sumo being the official name for the Dekopon.

Re: Dekopon citrus

Postby RodneyS » Fri Feb 18, 2011 2:05 pm

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Went to the local Korean supermarket and found Dekopon(Sumo). Six for $10.99! I passed on that.

Image

Image

They're fairly large but unattractive for the regular consumer.

Re: Dekopon citrus

Postby Axel » Fri Feb 18, 2011 3:05 pm

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Thanks for sharing the pics. Almost $2 per mandarin is ridiculous, because a mandarin is all this is no matter what sorts of colors Mr. Carp put on it.

I think they are banking on Korean familiarity with the fruit. What a rip off!!! I also had put a call into the company, they didn't even bother to return my calls, I guess they are too busy trying to make money.

Re: Dekopon citrus

Postby atc » Fri Feb 18, 2011 4:46 pm

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I found more information in Japanese websites:

"Dekopon" is actually a trademark name for Shiranui mandarin with Brix > 13.
Shiranui mandarin was not patented in Japan when discovered in 1972, due to concern about its rough appearance.
Not cold hardy -- for this reason it is mainly grown in Kyushu.

Re: Dekopon citrus

Postby Ashok » Mon Feb 21, 2011 6:40 pm

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Axel,

I wrote to Gene to inquire about upcoming tours of his collection, and I mentioned the L.A. Times "Dekopon" article. He said that "Dekopon" (or whatever name you care to apply) is nucellar, and so should come "true" from seed. So anyone who's interested should start sprouting some out right away!

Congratulations on the fantastic-looking new web-site!

Re: Dekopon citrus

Postby RodneyS » Mon Feb 21, 2011 8:44 pm

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According to the website, it's naturally seedless. However, there is an Ebay auction for 10 Dekopon seeds.

Re: Dekopon citrus

Postby Ashok » Mon Feb 21, 2011 9:06 pm

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If you Google "Dekopon" + "seeds", one of the first few hits is a post on the Citrus Growers Forum from someone who was surprised to find a seed in a fruit that he/she ate. So, apparently, seeds sometimes do appear in the usually-seedless "Dekopon". Buying fruits in search of seeds might be something like buying chocolate bars in the hope of getting a Wonka golden ticket!

Re: Dekopon citrus

Postby RodneyS » Fri Mar 18, 2011 4:32 pm

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I used my Whole Foods gift card today & bought a Dekopon(Sumo) citrus. It's sold at WF for $2.99/lb.

My impressions-

I was underwhelmed. It was good, but the Dekopon tasted like a fully-ripened Valencia orange, IMHO. Not worth the premium cost. I'm glad I tried it, though.

Re: Dekopon citrus

Postby SJVcharlie » Fri Mar 18, 2011 11:12 pm

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Anybody getting seeds in the California brand 'Dekopon'

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