Read all about the finger lime, and why it could be the next thing in Florida citrus.
A recent article by UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center professor Jude Grosser, research assistant scientist Manjul Dutt and doctoral student Ethan Nielsen examines the finger lime, and makes a case for why it could be a new crop for Florida’s citrus growers to consider. Published in Citrus Industry Magazine, the article examines the characteristics of the finger lime and current options for Florida citrus growers. See a synopsis of the main points below.
Facts About the Finger Lime
- The finger lime is a citrus relative, Microcitrus australasica, and native to Australia.
- In Australia, finger limes are a wild specialty crop that garner high prices.
- There are significant exports of finger limes to Europe and Asia.
- The fruit is oval, shaped somewhat like a finger and, depending on the cultivar, can range from 1.5 to 4 inches in length.
- The finger lime fruit is made up of spherical juice vesicles, sometime marketed as “citrus caviar” in high-end restaurants.
- Research has shown that the Asian citrus psyllid does not like to feed on finger limes, and that “finger limes have a low infection rate, showing a low titer of the HLB bacterium and fewer symptoms of the disease,” according to the article, and that a recent study showed “within the citrus gene pool, only accessions ofPoncirus, Eremocitrus and Microcitrus showed considerable resistance to HLB.”
- New genetic combinations that hopefully retain the best features of finger limes, other citrus relatives and conventional citrus are being created at the Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC), and field evaluations of the finger lime are currently underway.
- For growers interested in the finger lime, the article maintains “there are currently only a few varieties available from the Florida Citrus Budwood Program: DPI-50-36, DPI-205-1 and DPI-205-4 (the giant finger lime, which may be a hybrid, as the fruit are a more typical lime shape).” It also quotes Peter Chaires, executive director of Florida’s New Varieties Development & Management Corporation, as saying, “There are between 7 and 10 acres of finger limes being cultivated statewide. The most significant challenge for cultivation has been the harvest, due to the thorniness of the bushes/trees. Commercial harvesting crews are not very interested in working with these.”
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