An old sweet orange variety, Parson Brown, may be poised to overtake Hamlin as a favorite early-season variety.

Florida citrus growers are always on the lookout for citrus varieties showing a tolerance to citrus greening, and a Citrus Industry article reports that Parson Brown, an old early-season sweet orange variety may be doing just that. UF/IFAS horticultural researcher, Manjul Dutt, shared the research that is ongoing into the variety in the article. Read about it below.

Parson Brown Details

The article details Parson Brownxs origination as “a chance seedling at the home of Reverend N.L. Brown near Webster, Florida in 1856,” and cites a 1998 UF/IFAS publication in describing it as not as productive as Hamlin, but having a better juice color.

“Evidently with the terribly low availability of early processing fruit, the juice plants are more open to receiving Parson Brown than (they were) a few years ago,” said Gary England, a retired Extension agent working on the research.

Dutt shared that the old variety seems to be handling citrus greening better than Hamlins. “Observations made in commercial blocks in Polk and neighboring counties illustrate an improved canopy density, improved mature fruit retention and higher yields in the early-maturing Parson Brown sweet orange when compared to adjacent Hamlin blocks,” he said.

Researchers believe systemic acquired resistance (SAR) may be at work. “Preliminary molecular analysis of randomly sampled leaves from trees at a Lake Wales grove have indicated the possibility of systemic acquired resistance (SAR) playing a role in tolerance to HLB in the Parson Brown. Our current plan is to sample trees from all major citrus-producing counties to understand if this tolerance mechanism is prevalent in all clones of Parson Brown planted in Florida.” Dutt said.

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