The kinnow is a high yield mandarin hybrid cultivated extensively in the wider Punjab region of Pakistan and India .
It is a hybrid of two citrus cultivars — ‘King’ (Citrus nobilis) × ‘Willow Leaf’ (Citrus × deliciosa) — first developed by Howard B. Frost,at the University of California Citrus Experiment Station. After evaluation, the ‘kinnow’ was released as a new citrus hybrid for commercial cultivation in 1935.
In a hot climate, plants can grow up to 35 feet high. ‘Kinnow’ trees are highly productive; it is not uncommon to find 1000 fruits per tree.
The fruit matures in January or February. It peels easily and has a high juice content.
The high seed content in this variety is a major hindrance in out-of-hand eating. University of California, Riverside, USA developed low seeded ‘Kinnow’ and released it under the name ‘Kinnow LS’ in the year 2011. Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, India also developed low seeded ‘Kinnow’ through mutation breeding and recommended it under the name ‘PAU Kinnow’ in the year 2015. In Pakistan, a seedless ‘kinnow’ has been developed (using selection method) by Niaz Ahmad Chaudhry ”, a team member of National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC), Islamabad ‘NARC’ (former director of Citrus Research Institute (CRI), Sargodha,’CRI’. The seedless variety has achieved a higher production level from the Western Mediterranean countries of Spain and Morroco.
Most of the target export markets of the Pakistani ‘kinnow’ are those of developing countries. Only 2.6 percent of ‘kinnow’ exports target the markets of developed countries, which is due to the emerging demand for seedless ‘kinnow’ by the developed countries. About 61 percent of total world exports of oranges and mandarins are of seedless varieties. Some important export markets for ‘kinnow’ are:Iran, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Afghanistan, Netherlands, Philippines, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Russia and Vietnam. Indonesia has also offered market access to kinnow, from Pakistan at zero per cent. Over 40% of the Pakistani exports of kinnows went to Russia in 2015.
‘Kinnow’ harvesting starts when the fruit’s external colour becomes orange, from December to February. The best harvesting time is mid-January to mid-February, when the fruit attains a TSS/acid ratio of 12:1 to 14:1. The fruit quality declines in later pickings. Fruits are harvested by clipping the stem with the help of sharp clippers (secateurs). The stem is cut as short as possible to avoid mechanical injury to the fruit in packing and transits. As it is a comparatively loose rind fruit, harvesting by pulling fruits with one’s hands is avoided. Coating ‘kinnow’ fruits with commercial waxes can increase the shelf life up to 60 days. The fruit can be stored in cold storage at a temperature of 4-5 °C and a relative humidity of 85-90%.