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Cara Cara Questions

Posted by suzanneSKS z 7 WA. (My Page) on
Tue, Sep 20, 05 at 19:59

I am interested in growing a Cara Cara.It'll be grown as a potted citrus inside my greenhouse.I don't know if I ever tasted one??? So would like to know somethings about them. About taste and are they easy to grow?These are the dwarf citrus that come from Four Winds in Ca:) ***Suzanne


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Cara Cara Questions

Suzane, I have grown a Cara Cara for some years in my greenhouse. It is my very favorite citrus to eat, I purchase many when they come to market. The flesh is pink to red. However, greenhouse growers sometime have a problem getting the fruit's flesh to turn red. The red color of the juice sacs is caused by the fruit being subject to cool temperatures. If your greenhouse has very many tropicals then the temperature will not be low enough to get color to the fruit. The fruit will still be good to eat, but it will be the typical orange flesh color, and not red. Cara Cara grown in California are nice and colored, however, Cara Cara grown in Florida generally do not color because of Florida's higher daily heat. So therfor they are not grown much there. - Millet


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RE: Cara Cara Questions

Millet is right. That is also true with some blood oranges, ie, Moro. They will not develop deep and dark color pigmentation without the cooler temperatures.

I have interesting results with Cara-cara. The ones that I have tasted from farmer's market are plain sweet without acidity, though the flesh is salmon pink. The one that I have in my garden, the first year, the taste is more acidic but less sweet, although the taste is a lot better than my Valencias so would consider it to be a must-have citrus variety. I still have to wait about three more years for the tree to mature and have their taste stabilized.


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RE: Cara Cara Questions

Millet, I thank you kind Sir.I have (2)greenhouses,and will be grown in with all other citrus's.No tropicals in this one,which I do keep cool above 32 degree's.My other citrus thrive in there.So I'm in the ball park for getting color:) and I can't wait to taste:) But I also would like to know if they are good producers? And can I keep this citrus some-what contained? As in pruned to shape? Or are proun to be heavy bearing? Again I welcome your answers:)***Suzanne


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RE: Cara Cara Questions

Suzanne, My greenhouse is 30-feet wide and 72-feet long. My two overhead Modine heaters are located on the north end, and the two large vents are on the south end. I place my Moro Blood and my Cara Cara in the coolest part of the greenhouse, near the vents. In Colorado, from the end of November to near the end of March we get a hard freeze every single night. Usually night temperatures in my area stay any where from below zero the the high teens. I grow orchids, papaya, pineapple, bananas, bergmansia and other tropicals that require higher night time heat. I also grow all my citrus warm year around, so as to get a full years growth, and not just growth for 5 or 6 months of the year. The warmth also helps the Lemons and Limes to flower 11 or 12 months of the year. But, one does pay for it with the greenhouse heat bill. Even keeping the Cara Cara in the coolest spot in the greenhouse, the color change is only so so. Concerning the coloring of the Cara Cara, I have read in some books ..."The flesh color develops well during warm weather, unlike the red pigmentation of the blood oranges which requires cool weather for red development." However, I have not found this to be true in by warm greenhouse. I have never pruned my Cara Cara, nor any citrus tree I have in my collection (approximately 50 trees), As you know pruning can greatly reduce the amount of fruit that a tree will produce. My Cara Cara tree is about 8 or 9 feet tall and perhaps 4-5 feet wide. Just being in a container greately reduces the size the tree will ever obtain. Smaller containers = smaller trees. The Cara Cara tree has a compact growth habit and subtle leaf variegation, the cambium area of the stems and the bark being reddish in color in some trees. The red flesh of the fruit, is because it contains a red pigment call lycopene, the same pigment found in the pink and red grapefruit. As far as fruit production, Cara Cara is a variety of the Navel Orange, and I have found it to yeild about the same as the Washington Navel and other Navels. Infact some times Cara Cara is sold under the name "Red Navel". If you purchase trees from Four Winds they will be dwarf trees anyway. I have not purchased many trees from Four Winds, but every tree I have purchased from them have been really very nice trees. Cara Cara is a nice tree, and a rather pretty tree, I would add it to your collection. Take care. - Millet


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RE: Cara Cara Questions

I have no explanation, Millet, for your observation that you don't get good color on your Cara Cara in warm weather. But under Florida commercial conditions, it does produce excellent color with no cool nights at all. It's commonly grown, along with other navel varieties, and is similar except for the color. Of the ones I've eaten, I'd say the flavor is not quite so rich as some other varieties, but that may well be because I've only had fruit from young trees, and with any navel, tree age has much to do with quality of flavor. Our tree on the FSC campus develops good, bright pink color (as you've said, it's a grapefruit pink, not a blood orange purply-red) and for us, it is mature and ready to pick, usually before we've had any significant cold. We also have a couple blood orange trees, and on our campus, they seldom develop more than a few red flecks, in an otherwise pale orange-fleshed fruit. They do taste good anyway, but don't look like a blood orange.


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RE: Cara Cara Questions

That's what I'm going to do... build a greenhouse just for citrus so it can cool down. In Florida it's not only citrus that is different due to heat and humidity but other tropical fruits. Before doing any of this I never knew that. I grow several types of blood orange and noticed that they were not nearly as red as I expected. I just assumed red navel looked like that everywhere. lol
Growing citrus in a greenhouse is going to be a whole new experience for me. I hope discussions on greenhouse growing continues.
I invited a customer who lives in Montana to come and share her experiences on her greenhouse. She released insects into her house and had excellent results.


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RE: Cara Cara Questions

At what age would you consider a Citrus tree to be mature?
And Tam,I am with you on this about talk on greenhouse growing.It's exciting.So far, I have had very good luck with my citrus and it's been about 4 years that I have been growing citrus in there.I have also resorted to growing most of my veggies and herbs also in the greenhouse.Here in Washington we have alot of blight,and sluggs to contend with.And it's quite nice to have my veggies bug free:) Although,I too am looking into Praying Mantis's to let loose and be permenant residents.Millet, do you have any beneficial insects roaming in your greenhouse? I have also heard that Lady Buggs do their jobs quite well.Thank you all for the information on Cara Cara's,as well as Moro's and Blood Oranges I have learned alot today...once again Thanks to all:)***Suzanne


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RE: Cara Cara Questions

Suzane, I have used beneficial insects as a pest control method in my greenhouse in the past. Mostly lady bugs, Praying Mantis, Spiders ect. However, I basicly no longer use them. The main problem with live predators inside a closed structure such as a greenhouse, is that they starve to death shortly after their host bugs become eliminated. For example, I have purchased lady bugs for aphid control. They did a good job, but as soon as all the aphids were eaten (which did not take long) the lady bugs had nothing more to eat and starved. Also if you wish to use benefical insects you will have to screen all of your fans, vents, and doors. Without screening, when the fans come on the beneficals are quickly sucked out, or they fly off through the vents and open doors. Actually, I have found that a forceful water spray every two or three weeks works just as well or better in the long run. I'm not really into organics but using a semi-strong water spray would definately quifily organically. Now that I use plant washing as my main method of controling insectecs, a natural benefical predator build up in an sustainable amount has developed, mostly spiders (which do not bother me) - Millet


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RE: Cara Cara Questions

Millet,again thank you for helping me to rethink this. LOL! I didn't think of what would happen if the food supply ran out.I will just continue on spraying with water also:)Although the Praying Mantis would be a wonderful conversation piece.I was'nt thinking out of the box so to speak. LOL!!! At what age would you consider a citrus to be a mature tree? The Cara cara is a (2 to 3 )year old tree is the fruit going to be eatable at the time of maturity? Or should I wait to taste the fruits next year?***Suzanne


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RE: Cara Cara Questions

Suzane, citrus trees do not mature because they have obtained some predestined age. Citrus trees mature when the tree has grown the required number of nodes. So, when a citrus tree germinates from a seed it produces a leaf (one node). As time passes the tree produces a second leaf (second node), then a third (third node). After a month it might have 15 leaves (15 nodes). This growth goes on and on as more leaves (more nodes) are produced by the tree. After 5 years or so there are thousands of leaves on the tree (thousands of nodes). One day the magic number of nodes is reached, and the tree will then begain to bloom and fruit. This can be 3-5 years for some varieties of citrus and up to 15+ years for a variety such as oranges. The time frame from germination to maturity will be much longer for a tree that is not kept warm and fertilized year around, such as in a greenhouse environment, where the tree can continue growing 12 months of the year. A tree grown in a home that lives in low light and is not fertilized during the winter could take a considerable amount of time to reach the magic number. A tree in the tropics will mature in 1/3 to 1/2 the amount of time. A grafted tree might begin to fruit in one or two years, because a mature bud was taken from a tree that has already produced the required amount of nodes (thus a mature bud). When the bud is grafted onto the new rootstock the bud remembers it's node count and remembers where it was cut from the mother tree. The grafted bud is mature from the very beginning, and only needs to produce a little growth before fruiting statrs. On you Cara Cara I would eat the very first fruit - what the heck. The fruit will become better every year thereafter. - Millet


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RE: Cara Cara Questions

  • Posted by Laaz z8b SC (My Page) on
    Wed, Sep 21, 05 at 20:24

Millet is correct with the mature bud, but grafted tree's usually take up to 5 years to produce "Quality" fruit. The fruit from a 1 or 2 year grafted tree is not always very good. You can eat it, but you will notice a big difference between the fruit of the mother tree & the fruit of the grafted tree.


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RE: Cara Cara Questions

Laaz, yes, GOOD POINT. Grafted trees will fruit sometimes in as little as one year, and more or less commonly in two years. But for QUALITY fruit youre certainly correct. Thanks for he addition. - Millet


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All my dwarf citrus started out as (2to 3)year old trees,and I'm now going into my 4th year growing citrus so I have seen & tasted the maturity of my lemons and limes:)Now I am starting to grow the orange species,Satsuma Mandarin and Honey Murcott Tangerine, this is what I have collected so far,this is my second year with the Murcott and it is loaded with fruit.This is why I wanted to know if it was eatable.Yesterday,I recieved the Owari Satsuma with (1) large mandarin on this guy.And I am very excited about the oranges.I also have a Cara cara coming thanks to all your imput rating this tree.Laaz thank you also,I never stop learning in this forum:)***Suzanne


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RE: Cara Cara Questions

The specific problem with fruit on very young trees will be that it dries out, or is bland-flavored (lacks the rich, typical flavor of the variety) or both. Navels are more likely to do it than any other type. Outdoors, here, they get "good" in about the 5th year, and "wonderful" in the 15th or later year. I used to have a 50+ year-old navel in my front yard, and the fruit was amazing -- sweet and rich. Would that all navels were so good!


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Dr.Manners, you and your tree is Floridas best:)***Suzanne


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RE: Cara Cara Questions

I agree with M Manners. Cool nights has nothing to do with it (nor sweeting either) Color in CaraCara, according to my friend Dolan Young who grows some 300,000 + nursery citrus trees every year for the commercial citrus industry, is all to do with getting enough heat in the summer, without getting too much, so that is remains juicy.
Arthur the Date Palm Guy


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RE: Cara Cara Question

I took the occation to follow up on this with Dolan (the nurseryman). He added that the pink color tends to show early in the season when the fruit is not that sweet and tends to fade as the season goes on and the fruit gets sweeter. He believes it "eats the same as Parent" Washington, meaning the taste is as good.
I have 2 caracara of my own, now in their 4th year. This is not a good growing region for oranges (to hot) but I try anyway. Last year was the first fruit I let stay on the tree and it was very dry, which is typical due to the hot summers. This year the tree is older, biger, and the fruit so far seems to have taken the heat a little better, especially the fruit that is shaded by leaves and branches. I hope to be able to do a little "empirical research" into this question this year. : )
Arthur the Date Palm Guy


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Arthur, I was looking at your "my page" information. You have a very nice collection of citrus varieties. My oldest son was just in your area participating in a golf tournment in the Palm Springs area. A while back, I was in Israel and saw large commerical Date Farms growing lots of dates near Jerico and also in the Dead Sea region. The area is Hot, Hot, Hot. I enjoy reading your postings on this form a lot. - Millet


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Thank you for your kind words Millet. I also enjoy reading your additions to the forum. If you ever get the chance to be passin' through our way, we would love to give you a tour of our little place and show you some Southern (California) hospitality.
Arthur the Date Palm Guy


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RE: Cara Cara Questions

My father recently baught a cara cara semi-dwarf navel orange tree while on vacation in Arizona. He traveled back home to NW Indiana over a three day period with the tree in his camper. During the three day trip, he neglected to water the tree and did not give it proper sun exposure. Now that the tree has been home for about a week, it has been sitting in front of a tall window for sun and has ben getting about 16-32 oz. of water daily. We have just noticed a The leaves look as if they are being eaten. A few of them look as if something came up an bit a chunk of of them. Other leaves have small pin sized yellow marks on the back side of the leaf where the veins are. These yellow marks look as if they go from yellow to a dark black before becomming an actual hole. What might be wrong with our tree and what can we do to fix and keep this from happening again?


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RE: Cara Cara Questions

I bought a Cara Cara Orange tree last year from a nursery. When I bought it, it had oranges on it which matured and I ate them-yumm! I put it outside in full sun since spring, but I did not get any blossoms. Anyone have any ideas why or what I can do for next year?


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RE: Cara Cara Questions

I am hoping someone can offer some advise? I recently purchased a dwarf cara cara tree and after only 6 or 7 weeks it appears to be dying. I live in Phoenix so it's very hot here. I have tried everything including B1 but the leaves are falling off and the others are turning yellow. Any help on this would be gratefully aprreciated.


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RE: Cara Cara Questions

Jean, is the tree in the ground? I live in Gilbert and bought a Cara Cara about four months ago. It did exactly what you are describing. It was almost bare before I dug it up and put it in a pot. Now it's recovering. Mine is a semi-dwarf on fly dragon rootstock, so I was ok with digging it up. I've kept it in a shaded part of the yard and it's much better now. I'm not sure if it's the type of tree or the time of year, but mine was ailing as well, in ground. Someone might have better suggestions, but if it's a dwarf you may want to do what I did and replant in the ground in the fall. I also considered getting shade mesh, but time was running out. I've been told the fall is a better time to plant citrus in ground out here. Let us know.


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