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Fairchild mandarin: delicious but seedy

 Fairchild Mandarin Tree

(Citrus reticulata Blanco)

Hybrid cross of Clementine mandarin and Orlando tangelo.

 

Fairchild mandarin overview:

This is a delicious tasting citrus with an unfortunate amount of seeds.

 

Fairchild Mandarin Fruit:

Fairchild mandarin fruit appearance:   

  • The fruit is about 3 inches in diameter and oblate (flat-ish) in shape.
  • When fully ripe, the rind is a very deep orange.
  • The juicy flesh is also dark orange in color.
Appearance of the Fairchild mandarin

3 sides of the Fairchild mandarin: (Left shows the top of the fruit, middle shows the side of the fruit and right shows the bottom of the fruit)

Fairchild mandarin fruit taste: 

  • This citrus has a delicious well balanced rich flavor.  This fruit is also rather juicy with a touch of tang.
  • Unfortunately it has a freaking ton of seeds. There are 2 to 4 seeds per section.  Fortunately, the seeds are at the apex of the sections (center of the fruit), so they are easier find if you are looking to remove them individually.  Alternatively, you can cut around the seeds if you slice the fruit before you peel it.
  • Many have reported that the Fairchild is not easy to peel.  In my experience, this is only true if you pick the fruit early in the season (Nov to Dec).  The fruit is very-very easy to peel and actually also tastes the best if you pick later in the season (January-February).
  • The fruit hangs well on the tree for a long time, but you should expect them to start to fall off the tree on their own around March.
Ripe Fairchild mandarin is easy to peel

Ripe Fairchild mandarin is easy to peel

Fruit season:  

  • One of the reported attractive aspects of the Fairchild mandarin is that it ripens earlier in the season than a lot of other citrus fruits.
  • My Southern California experience has been that there is also a long season (November to March).
Fairchild mandarin

Early season Fairchild mandarin with some green left on the fruit. Better wait a few months yet.

When to pick Fairchild mandarin?

  • The Fairchild mandarin is optimally ripe when fully colored dark orange.  When ripe the skin/rind should also give to pressure when squeezed.
  • For me this time has been the months of January and February.
  • Although many will pick earlier, I have found that fruit harvested in the first part of the season are not that special. Not bad, just not the wonderful flavor you get if you wait till later.
Fairchild mandarin fruit to the left is ripening and fruit in the middle is ready to pick.

Fairchild mandarin fruit to the left is ripening and fruit in the middle is ready to pick.

 

Growing a Fairchild Mandarin Tree:

Fairchild mandarin tree fertilization:

  • I try to fertilize all of my citrus from late winter to mid-summer.
    • The rational is that I don’t want to encourage young leaf growth in the winter because of the risk of cold damage to the susceptible young leaves.
    • On the other end, I don’t want to encourage too much young growth during leaf miner season which starts around July.
  • I generally use a balanced fertilizer such as 15-15-15 and apply it in 4 doses during the fertilization season described above.
  • I also give a single dose of micronutrients in the spring.
  • Lately I have been adding in all kinds of other goodies such as mushroom compost, grow mulch, worm castings, etc. I am getting the sense that citrus like the variety.

Fairchild mandarin growing temperature:

  • Citrus will tolerate a light frost but will be killed by prolonged freezing temperatures.
  • For more information about the lowest temperatures that you can expect in your area, check out my article “Climate Zones: What can I grow in my yard?”

Fairchild mandarin tree soil: 

  • Citrus need well draining soil.
  • Although many will say that citrus can be planted in sand, I have found they do a lot better if you give them a rich-organic growing environment.  See my planting article for my general planting recommendations for all my Southern California fruit trees.

Landscaping use:

  • The trees are vigorous with a wide-spreading habit.
  • The deep orange-red fruit stays on the tree for months and provides a nice visual contrast.

Water:

  • I tend to err on the side of overwatering my newly planted trees for the first few months. Then I cut back and watch closely for the next year.
  • When established, my citrus get watered deeply in the hotter months about 2x a week.

Sun:

  • Full.

Pollination:

  • I have read that for best fruit production a pollinator is necessary.  I have so many citrus and bees around I personally can’t tell how true this statement is.

Fairchild mandarin tree pests:

  • The Fairchild is susceptible to the usual suspects such as citrus leaf miner, and aphids.
    • See my earlier article for how to deal with citrus leaf miner.
    • Horticulture oil spray works very well on aphids.  However, the leaf miner spray mix that I have outlined seems to also do a better job on those darn aphids.
    • Tangle foot is an awesome bonus prevention treatment for all kinds of plant bugs.  Those sap suckers rarely have a chance with the one-two combo of spray and tangle foot.  The major bonus with this method is no toxic systemic pesticides.
  • A few months back, a gopher almost killed my Fairchild mandarin before I caught the evil underground raider. Unfortunately for me, I planted a lot of citrus with the false information that gophers don’t like them.  Although it may not be their first choice, gophers will definitely eat and kill citrus.  Please use a gopher cage at planting so you dont have to dig your trees up later. Here’s an easy way to make a gopher cage.
The bright ripe fruit of the Fairchild mandarin

The bright ripe fruit of the Fairchild mandarin

 

Fairchild Mandarin Use:

Fairchild mandarin food use:

  • I believe most people classify the Fairchild mandarin as an out of hand eating kind-of citrus.
  • However, all of those seeds make it rather annoying to eat this way.  Although it may not be part of the plan, I would imagine that the seed content and the delicious flavor would make this fruit very well suited for juicing.
  • Because all the seeds are in the center of the fruit, you can always cut out the middle of the fruit with a knife (like an apple) before pealing to avoid all those seeds.
Seedy Fairchild mandarin

Seedy Fairchild mandarin

Miscellaneous:

Other Tangelo x Clementine hybrids:  Lee, Nova (Clemenvilla), Osceola, Page, Robinson

 

 

 

 

About Thomas Osborne, MD

Dr. Osborne is a Harvard trained Radiologist and Neuroradiologist who loves to share his insight about medicine and gardening.

4 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing all the wonderful articles .

  2. Hi 🙂 thanks for all the info. I just purchased a 25# box of these & am wondering about freezing them to keep them longer? We will be using those for smoothies. Any knowledge on how they freeze?
    Thank you.
    Tami

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Tami
      Thanks for the note.

      Lots of Mandarins:
      Wow, you got yourself a lot of citrus.
      I can see why you would want to freeze them.
      I have not personally tried freezing mandarins.

      Lime Juice:
      However, when I have a ton of limes/lemons, I juice them and then freeze the juice in ice cube trays.
      I then fill ziplocks with the amount of juice-cubes needed to make a pitcher of limeade, etc.
      This makes it real easy to just drop the Juice-cubes in water to make your limeade/lemonade. (article references on some limeade/lemonade recipes below)
      Best Limeade Recipe
      Meyer Lemonade Recipe

      However, I digress.
      My point is that… at least for lemons and limes, the juice seems to freeze very well.

      Perhaps another reader has some specific experience for your mandarin question.

      Best,
      Tom

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