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?