CELEBRATING THE SATSUMA MANDARIN ORANGE
The distinctive Satsuma mandarin orange is considered to have originated in Japan prior to 1600 A.D. It was given the name Satsuma in 1878 by the wife of General Van Valkenberg, the United States minister to Japan, probably because she first saw them growing in the Satsuma province on the island of Kyushu.
Our foothill region is ideally suited to growing this fruit, due to our hot summers followed by the cool fall season, generally without the freezing temperatures which can damage or kill citrus trees. The delicious sweet, seedless fruit ripen in November and December; the fruit must ripen on the tree, turning a rich waxy orange. Pick too early and they won’t have sweetened; too late and the rind becomes puffy and the flesh will be less juicy.
Satsuma mandarin trees are easy to grow; pick a sunny, wind-free southern exposure for the best results, and make sure your soil drains well. Satsumas can be grown in containers, at least 18-20” diameter, with a light, well-draining potting soil or planting mix. Citrus are heavy feeders, so be sure to use a balanced fertilizer formulated for citrus trees, such as our Master Nursery Citrus Food. Feed monthly during the growing season, March thru’ October. Use Master Nursery Liquid Master Bloom during the winter months, November to February, to increase production, flavor and tree health.
If cold weather threatens, as can happen in the foothills, protect your crop and your tree by covering with frost cloth, spraying with a desiccants such as Bonide Wilt-Stop, and putting out some old-fashioned heat generating electric lights. Trees can survive some short mild freezes, but a sustained freezing temperature can cause considerable damage.
We carry a good selection of citrus trees, including the top-selling Owari Satsuma, all year long. Swing by the Mandarin Festival at the Gold Country Fairgrounds on November 16 – 18, 2018, to sample and buy some of our delicious locally grown fruit, and consider planting a tree for yourself for years of enjoyment.