June is an exciting time here. Not because I celebrate my birthday, rather it is when our Hickson mandarin's fruit is ready for picking.
Hickson mandarins are an Australian mandarin originating in Roma Queensland. They are believed to be a limb sport from an Ellendale mandarin tree owned by Mr. Hickson (hence the name). Hicksons are a medium to large-size mandarin and have an orange to slightly reddish colour with between 10 and 15 seeds per fruit. They have a high juice content and a great flavour. They are easy to peel and break into segments.
Another benefit with Hickson mandarins is that they have a very long post-harvest life. This is not a huge consideration for the home grower, unless of course you want to harvest your fruit before any Sulphur Crested Cockatoos start to sample your goods.
The fruit from our tree is quite large. The tree was planted in late 2007 and has been around for two fruiting seasons. In this its second year, it has produced around 50 fruits. We attempted to remove all fruit for the first year, however a few fruits managed to stay on much to our subsequent delight. However it is best to remove all fruit during the first year.
Last night at the Sub-tropical Fruit Club of Queensland bi-monthly meeting, we got to taste a number of different mandarins, including Fremont and Imperial, as well as Tangelo Minneola. I was able to bring home a number of samples to compare against the Hickson mandarin. In terms of sweetness, the Fremont comes out on top, just. The Hickson is a close second. The Hickson is also about as easy to peel as an Imperial, but without as much of the pithy white stuff. However in terms of size the Hickson is a clear winner (in the picture with the three segments, the top one is the Hickson, the middle is the Imperial, and the bottom one is the Fremont) . So overall, the Hickson is certainly a mandarin worth growing in your home garden.