With the arrival of autumn, tangerines are the perfect claim for many greengrocers. These mini oranges have a very sweet flavor, although choosing them without seeds can be an odyssey.
Before looking for seedless mandarins, you have to know that they are not eliminated. If we get some seedless fruit, it is not due to ripening issues. It was believed that if they were very ripe, the fruit had a seed to give way to a new generation. But it’s not like that. In fact, even if there are seedless mandarins, the seeds are still there. They just never get big enough to be noticeable.
The absence of seeds in citrus is a genetic mutation that occurs naturally. In the last century, growers have selected and bred more varieties that have few or no seeds, something that many consumers seem to prefer. When a farmer happens to find a variety that does not produce seeds, he can cut off shoots from those trees and graft them to make new ones. But tangerines are not GM citrus fruits . Seeds are used to grow the rootstock, but the seedless variety can be grafted onto it.
Even so, having seeds is not dangerous to health. We will only have to avoid swallowing or chewing them to have a better experience with this fruit.
Pollination, yes or no?
The seeds of the clementine mandarin are due to cross- pollination of the flowers of another nearby citrus fruit. Citrus flowers are rich in nectar, making them very attractive to bees that move pollen between citrus trees. This causes the resulting fruit to have seeds or pips.
Clementines are a type of citrus fruit that are called parthenocarpic , meaning they do not need cross-pollination to produce fruit. Therefore, the tree could be covered with fine mesh during flowering to prevent pollinating insects (such as bees and others) from bringing in pollen from another citrus tree, and it would still produce fruit, albeit without seeds. After flowering is over, the farmer could remove the mesh cover.
The Afourer and Nadorcott varieties peel easily and are seedless when grown in isolation from pollinators. However, the ones that come from Valencia do tend to have seeds because they are grown in the summer and so much care is not taken with pollination. To find a seedless version, it is best to go to a trusted greengrocer to find out if the farmer has taken any preventive measures.