In November last year I had the opportunity to taste 32 varieties of mandarin oranges including the USDA 6-15-150 mandarin orange. Of those mandarins, the USDA 6-15-150 was one of my new favorites. It has great flavor and would be great for juicing.
The USDA 6-15-150 is a product of the USDA citrus breeding program in Florida and is said to be the most cold tolerant mandarin variety to come out of that program, on par with satsuma mandarins. USDA 6-15-150 is a good choice for growers concerned about freezes.
USDA 6-15-150 is a hybrid of Lee Mandarin and Orlando Tangelo. Lee Mandarin is a hybrid of Clementine Mandarin and Orlando Tangelo. Orlando Tangelo is a hybrid of Duncan Grapefruit and Dancy Mandarin. So USDA 6-15-150 is 3/8 Duncan Grapefruit, 3/8 Dancy Mandarin, and 1/4 Clementine. Based upon its flavor, I would not have suspected USDA 6-15-150's grapefruit parentage, but perhaps that explains its large size.
Taste Test Results
A November 2014 citrus taste test compared USDA 6-15-150 with 31 other Mandarin varieties. All were grown in California’s central valley. On a scale from 1 to 9, the USDA 6-15-150 scored 6.4, between “good, above average” (6) and “very good” (7). Of the seven mandarin orange varieties that were neither clementines nor satsumas, the USDA 6-15-150 scored the highest.
Here are some of the comments submitted by tasters:
- Excellent color, nice sweet/acid ratio, seedy, high juice content. Taste: crisp and clean with no aftertaste.
- Super juicy!
- Moist, flavorful, lovely subtle flavor, tangy undertones.
- Sort of sweet and sour.
- Difficult to section, too juicy, sweet.
- I love the texture and juiciness.
- Pretty tasty. Nice, sweet flavor. A bit too juicy to be eaten as a fruit — should be used primarily to make juice.
Available from CCPP
I would not expect to find USDA 6-15-150 in a nursery, but those interested in growing it can order the budwood from the Citrus Clonal Protection Program and graft it themselves. I like USDA 6-15-150 enough that I ordered the budwood and I am making my own tree.