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Stories articles and news abot Alison and Digby Gotts


The Samoan Experience
Three days in Tafua
EcoTour Samoa
The Samoan Election
Pruning the Mangoes
Climbing Mt SiliSili
Fourth week in Samoa

Samoan Observer Articles:

Why is there no fruit on my mango?
Want more mangoes next year?
Green oranges or orange oranges?
In search of a Samoan Orange
The Hardest Cut
Rambutan - hairy thing from the forest
Rambutan revisited
Abiu - the emporer's golden fruit
Avocado - fruit or vegetable?
Carambola - star of the rainforest
Durian - the extreme tropical fruit
Rollinia - lemon meringue pies growing in the garden
Sex and the single pawpaw
Soursop - a taste sensation
The mulch story
Do it yourself pest control
The joys of soapy water!
The hungry fruit tree
Positive insects



(One of a series of articles about growing fruit trees in Samoa, written by Digby Gotts and published in the 'Samoa Observer' between December 2000 and April 2001)

I actually went and bought some supermarket oranges a while ago as they looked so inviting. That bright orange colour is a real attention grabber, and just shouts “Eat Me!” Unfortunately, these brightly coloured fruit are most likely to have been picked many days or weeks before you see them, and have often become over-ripe and are starting to develop odd flavours.

Sadly for Samoa, oranges grown locally cannot develop that bright orange colour as it is simply too warm and wet for the skin to dry out enough. In dry areas or high up in the hills where it cools down you can find orange trees with brightly coloured fruit, but down on the coast the colour can rarely develop. Walking to the top of Mt Silisili just to harvest the crop of good looking oranges could be a bit silly, so Samoans can either get used paying for those imported and often over-ripe fruits, or just adapt to the idea of eating green oranges. Bright green and fresh oranges can be fully ripe and have far more sweetness and flavour than those elderly but bright orange ones.

Test for ripeness by gently squeezing the fruit. You should be able to dent the side without much force and it should spring back again. (If you put your finger through the fruit, please pay for it. Don’t just put it back on the shelf, hoping you weren’t seen!)

Local oranges can grow from seed, producing slightly sour, small fruit on a very prickly tree. Grafting a small bud from a good quality tree onto a seedling lemon or local rootstock is the more usual way of growing oranges. These rootstocks are disease resistant and can still keep the bud alive and growing. This trick was discovered by Chinese several thousand years ago and is still the main way of growing many of the oranges, mandarins and grapefruit today. The catch with this trick is that the original seedling keeps trying to grow new shoots. These are often stronger than the grafted bud and must be removed. If the owner of the tree is unaware of the battle going on, the orange will be defeated by the rootstock, leaving a lemon in its place. I often hear in Samoa of people picking lemons from what they bought as an orange tree, and blaming the seller of the tree for cheating them. A little knowledge can be a big help when you want good fruit.

Another good trick to learn about growing oranges starts when you notice how the bunch of fruit is always at the end of a branch. So the more branches you have, the more oranges you can get. Encourage more branching by cutting the end off each branch in winter. Each cut end will then grow 4 or 5 new tips, each of which will flower and produce a bunch of fruit at the end of summer. Ideally, give your tree a haircut every year after harvesting the fruit.

Some of the orange varieties available at Nafanua that grow well in Samoa include Late Valencia, Kona, Parson Brown, Pineapple and Rarotonga. These have usually been budded onto a rootstock with a different shape of leaf, so it’s easy to see which is the wrong growth, and break them off as they appear. Contact the fruit team at Nafanua if you would like some more detailed information.


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Last updated November 6, 2014