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Growing Finger lime in Florida

Introduction

citrus growers are beginning to look into alternative crops to diversify and find new markets. Some of these alternative crops might work, while others will not because of lack of adaptability to local climate or lack of market for that specific crop. When selecting any crop, it is necessary to choose a crop that is native to a similar climate or is already adapted to local conditions. Florida tropical fruit industry has some challenges such as more foreign competition, higher domestic labor costs, stringent US environmental regulations, and an increase in invasive alien pests and diseases in the state. It is difficult for Florida`s growers to compete in some of the markets for traditional tropical fruit crops. Therefore, they are actively searching for alternative niche-market crops that has the potential of relatively high returns. In this article we will talk about one of the potential alternative niche crop, called finger lime.

There is limited data about production and marketing of the crop in the United States. The Australian finger lime (Microcitrus australasica) is native to the rainforests located in the coastal border regions of Queensland and New South Wales (NSW) in Australia. As you probably know, it belongs to citrus family. It tastes like lemon, lime, and grapefruit. There is different color of finger lime such as pink and green. The fruit is about three inches in length consisting of hundreds of tiny, tangy juice vesicles, which some refer to as citrus caviar due to their shape, desirability, and high price.

Finger lime was imported by USDA more than a century ago as research subject. California is the only US state that grows finger lime on a commercial scale.

Climate Requirements

Finger lime is a frost sensitive, meaning it should be planted in south and central Florida. Since finger lime is sensitive to wind, it is highly recommended to establish a windbreak before planting.

Soil Requirements

Finger lime needs a full sun and well-drained soils.

Fertilization

The tree requires less fertilizer compare to other commercial citrus varieties because of smaller leaves and canopy. In general, finger lime can grow from a large shrub to a small tree (up to 18 ft).

Varieties

There are several varieties available to growers include DPI-50-36, DPI-205-1, and DPI-205-4. However, these varieties are the typical non-pigmented type.

Pest and Disease

Finger lime has been reported to be highly resistant to Phytophthora citrophthora root disease. Preliminary studies have also indicated that finger lime is tolerant to Huanglongbing (HLB), or citrus greening.

For more information, please read EDIS document:

https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdf/FE/FE103300.pdf