Cara Cara navel orange vs. California Rojo navel orange

Cara Cara navel vs. California Rojo navel
Comparison of Cara Cara navel orange and California Rojo navel orange

I attended the 2014 Citrus Clonal Protection Program (CCPP) Foundation & Evaluation Block Walkthrough in Lindcove, California on April 9.  While there I had the pleasure of meeting Roger Smith of TreeSource Citrus Nursery.  A few years ago Roger was very helpful to my local CRFG chapter.  Roger helped us to purchase citrus rootstock seedlings so that we could graft our own trees.  I have several trees now growing in my garden  that were grafted on that rootstock.

During the walkthrough, Roger had the great idea to compare the coloration of the California Rojo navel orange and the Cara Cara navel orange.  Despite what one might guess from the name, the California Rojo navel orange is a recent introduction to California from France.  It is currently available through CCPP as VI 760.  A 2010 comment on the UC Riverside Citrus Variety Collection website indicated that it may be indistinguishable from Cara Cara.  Roger cut open two of each orange and lined them up in rows.  To us it was clear that the coloration of the California Rojo (Navel 2 in the photo) is a deeper red.  When I tasted the California Rojo, I found it to be just as delicious as Cara Cara!

Roger is hoping that commercial growers will plant a few trees of California Rojo and see how it performs.  For the home grower considering grafting Cara Cara, my recommendation is to graft California Rojo instead.  Cara Cara is already widely available, so why not try something new?

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  1. Without reading the article, here’s my guess:
    Navel 1 is Cara cara navel.
    Navel 2 is the California Blood Rojo.

    The give away is the darker pigmentation that radiates from the center. Cara-cara has more uniform pigmentation all throughout.

    I’ve been ordering California Blood Rojo and always did not get budwoods because it is so in demand. Finally, I got some budwoods from CCPP. It will be added to my Pigmented Orange Tree, a collection of all pigmented oranges from CCPP.

    1. Hi Joe,
      You got it. Later I wished that I had brought one of each orange home and taken a photo like this under better lighting conditions, but you can tell the difference even in this photo that I did take.
      I finally got my California Rojo budwood, too. I am excited to try it. It is cool that you are making a Pigmented Orange Tree!
      Best regards,

  2. I am a commercial grower in the San Joaquin central valley. I am going to retool 30 acres, as far as production which one Cara Cara, California Rojo do you think is best on graduation, height, cold resistant, and water? And what is the best spacing to sit trees, or am I splitting hair’s? My spacing now is about 20 ft. on my Washington, Powells and Valencias. Any suggestions would be very helpful. I have thought soft peel might be the way to go but they require more hands on.

    1. Hi Roy,
      The California Rojo is so new in California and is a leading edge variety. I see that some measurements on the California Rojo for the past couple of years have been published here on the UCR Citrus Variety Collection website: California Rojo
      If you would like to see some of the older trees in California, I am sure that could be arranged.
      Tree spacing is a complex issue and I do not think there is a simple answer. It depends upon what your goals are. Closer spacing will be more expensive to plant, but may get you cash flow sooner. Also with closer spacing you may be able to harvest without ladders and faster and more easily. Rootstock is obviously a consideration, too. Also with the threat of HLB, denser plantings may help slow down the penetration of the ACP into the grove and thus save trees. See: How to Grow Citrus after Greening
      There is a new Citrus Production Manual, published this year by the University of California (Publication 3539). It has a few pages on orchard design, spacing, and planting. If you do not already have it, you ought to consider buying it and studying it as you plan the retooling your 30 acres.
      Best regards,

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