The variety’s many advantages make it one to watch for the future, says Rubén García of Ciqua Levante
A new seedless lemon variety from Ciqua Levante is attracting considerable interest from Spanish growers. Silkroad, a mutation of the Fino variety, is an extra-early lemon that can be harvested from at the end of August through to mid-November. Most importantly, it is a variety with low pollen viability, which means that under the right agro-environmental conditions it can produce seedless fruit.
“We were looking for a new, high-quality lemon variety with high production, adapted to our growing conditions and that improved the characteristics of the main varieties grown in Spain, that is to say Fino 95 and Fino 49,” Ciqua Levante’s CEO Rubén García tells Fruitnet. “Its name comes from the idea of creating a high-quality route to market for premium Fino lemons – hence Silk Road.”
Apart from being seedless, García says Silkroad has many other advantages that make it attractive to producers, not least its high productivity and rapid entry into production – by the second year trees can produce up to 20kg of fruit, meaning a faster return on investment.
“Silkroad produces smaller-sized, high-quality fruit that is smoother, more rounded and symmetrical than Fino and had a smaller collar and nipple. Plus, it has fewer and smaller thorns than Fino, which makes it easier to harvest and reduces fruit rubbing. And its uniform coloration makes degreening easier,” says García.
The harvest season is also a boon, as it coincides with the period when lemon supply is lower and higher prices can be achieved. Ciqua Levante, which holds the licensing rights to Silkroad in Spain, says it is already being propagated by two nurseries – Caliplant and Avasa – and it is in the process of closing agreements with another company to manage the variety in other countries. “Our aim is to introduce Silkroad into countries where it has the best potential to do well,” García, says, noting that there has been a high level of interest from growers in South America and the US in particular.
Silkroad is just one of the new citrus varieties Ciqua Levante is developing. “We are working on the selection of very interesting varieties of lemon, grapefruit, orange and tangerines that together will make up an innovative citrus portfolio,” says García. “In the next ten years we hope to have around 10-15 registered varieties, including a much earlier Navelina type orange, as well as our furanocoumarin-free red citrus.”