Two field experiments with 'Valencia' sweet orange [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osb.] trees propagated on 12 rootstocks were conducted in commercial orchards. The objectives were to compare rootstock horticultural performance between two locations with soils representative of the Central Florida Ridge (AP) and coastal flatwoods (I), the major citrus-growing regions in Florida, and to see if financial analysis would provide an improved basis for interpreting rootstock performance. The randomized complete-block trials involved six-tree plots replicated eight or 10 times at planting densities of 358 trees (AP) or 252 trees (I)/ha, respectively. Tree growth and survival, yield, and juice quality were measured for 15 years. When losses occurred, trees were replaced annually with another one on the same rootstock. The data of seven rootstocks were subjected to a financial interpretation of three scenarios: tree loss and tree loss with or without tree replacement using the discounted cash flow and internal rate of return methods at a 15% rate. At the flatwoods location, when differences among replications became apparent on several rootstocks, soil data were collected to study its possible association to tree performance; also in this trial, 400-kg fruit samples were differentially harvested in 2 successive years from mature trees on each of five commercial rootstocks when the juice soluble solids/acid ratio was near 15. The juice was extracted, pasteurized, and evaluated for flavor by an experienced taste panel. The horticultural data obtained for trees on specific well-studied rootstocks [Volkamer (C. volkameriana Ten. & Pasq.)] and rough (C. jambhiri Lush.) lemons, Carrizo citrange [C. sinensis · Poncirus trifoliata (L.)], sour orange [C. aurantium (L.)], Cleopatra mandarin (C. reshni Hort. ex Tan.), trifoliate orange (P. trifoliata), a selection of sweet orange (C. sinensis), and Swingle citrumelo (C. paradisi Macf. · P. trifoliata) at both locations were typical of their well-documented performance in Florida and elsewhere. Tree losses were virtually only from citrus blight and ranged from none (sour orange) to greater than 50% (Volkamer and rough lemons) at both locations, although tree loss began later at the Central Florida location. 'Valencia' cuttings (only at the flatwoods site) were long-lived and cropped well for their smaller size compared with the budded trees. Taste panelists were not able to distinguish differences over two seasons among pasteurized 'Valencia' juices produced from trees on different rootstocks and normalized by soluble solids/acid ratio. Yield and planting density were the main factors affecting financial outcome; also, in the highly variable soils of the coastal flatwoods, trees growing in sites with greater depth to an argillic layer had 30% to 200% higher yields. Trees on Volkamer lemon had only '50% survival at both locations but had the highest ($7,338/ha I) or one of the highest cash flows ($13,464/ha AP) as compared with one of the commercial standards, Carrizo citrange ($6,928 I; $16,826 AP), which had only '25% tree loss. Inclusion of financial analysis, with certain limitations, was concluded to considerably improve rootstock selection decisions compared with selection based only on horticultural data.
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