The 9 stages of production for clementines and mandarins
Every year, when the fruit flowers, experts from our Research Centre develop cross breeding plans in order to create new hardier varieties from an agricultural and commercial perspective.
From one generation to the next, our citrus fruits provide delicious taste and have proven more resistant to disease… even as our harvesting calendar expands!
Seedling or transplants
For mandarins, we select the best seeds for sowing. Clementines can be a bit trickier. Seeds and seedlings are often random and because the trees are hybrids, they rarely bear fruit. This is why we multiply our clementine trees by grafting.
Part of a clementine tree is grafted to the rootstock of an existing tree. In our orchards, we use the Bitter Orange because it has a very resistant bloom. It takes in the nutrients from the ground through the roots, bringing those nutrients up through the shaft.
With its cool winters and hot summers, Morocco enjoys the optimal climate for growing citrus fruit. Maintenance, size and abundant watering also go into a flourishing tree. On average, it takes eight years for a tree to produce good fruit.
We trim the branches of our trees in order to form the ideal structure for production. To grow properly, a citrus tree requires:
- temperatures between 13 °C and 39 °C;
- a lot of water (1400 mm peryear);
- low salinity;
- deep, lightweight soil;
- soil that’s slightly acidic.
Once it has reached full maturity, the clementine shrub measures four to six metres, and can produce fruit for 15 to 40 years, depending on the species and variety.
Trees bloom toward the end of spring and early summer. Flowers are beautiful bouquets of small white, very fragrant flowers. Most grow on the branches of the previous year, while some new branches may show off some buds at their very tips.
A clementine tree can have up to 200,000 blooms.
However, only 1% of these blooms will actually produce fruit that reaches maturity.
Pollinating insects, such as bees, deposit pollen on the pistil of the flower. The flowers then lose their petals and the heart of the flower grows. This phase can last from four to six weeks. This is essential to producing a significant amount of viable fruit.
There is about seven months between flowering and harvest.
Once harvested, the citrus fruit won’t continue to ripen. For superior quality fruit, it is crucial to let nature take its course—to let the fruit ripen on the tree. Contrary to what you might think, colour isn’t always an indication of ripeness, because depending on temperature, a clementine or a mandarin might not be as brightly coloured.
In Morocco, climate conditions are ideal for growing citrus fruits; the days are hot and sunny and the nights are cool. Therefore, our fruit has wonderful colour.
Even when ripe, clementines and mandarins don’t simply fall from the tree the way apples do. They must be picked with shears. This technique means the fruit doesn’t get damaged in the picking process. This allows it to be preserved longer.
The greater the difference in temperature between day and night, the deeper the colour of the peel.
Once the harvest is complete, the citrus fruit is sent on to one of our packaging stations. This is when we employ extremely rigorous quality controls while sorting the fruit. To do so, we use digital imaging and manual sorting with a blue lamp, in order to spot defects. The fruit is then washed, dried, polished, sized, and packed in various packaging.
This is when we employ extremely rigorous quality controls while sorting the fruit.
While the clementines and mandarins await transport, they are stored in refrigerators. We try to keep this waiting time to a minimum so that the fruit can get to your grocery store as quickly as possible.
From orchard to plate, nothing is left to chance.
“Premium” citrus that is exported from Morocco must meet numerous criteria:
- sufficient diameter;
- perfect shape;
- colour conformity;
- no defects.
To maintain the quality of our fruit, our citrus pallets are transported at temperatures between 4 °C and 8 °C. All containers are refrigerated and carefully loaded onboard the boat headed for Canada.