Navel oranges are generally distinguished from other orange types by their early maturity / ripening and the navel like appearance caused by a secondary small fruitlet embedded at the stylar end of the primary fruit. Navels are probably the most popular of all dessert oranges due to their excellent flavour, low fibre content, seedlessness, large fruit size and relatively easy peelability. Production of good quality fruit is however limited to cool subtropical and temperate mediterranean climates where external fruit colour and internal fruit quality are attained simultaneously. Navels are generally not as productive as valencias and severe climatic conditions during flowering and fruit set can negatively impact on yields. Navels are not suitable for juice processing due to the delayed bitterness in the juice caused by the release of limonin from other compounds in the fruit.
In Southern Africa the commercially recommended cultivars can be divided into 3 categories, determined by time of fruit maturity as listed below:
Early maturing navels (April – May)
Mid maturing navels (May – June)
Late maturing navels (June – July)
* Also previously known by these names.
** Semi commercial only.
Valencias are generally distinguished from navels by their late maturing / ripening, seediness (in most cases) , absence of navel and good processing juice characteristics. They are generally more difficult to peel and have higher acid levels. The commercially recommended cultivars used in Southern Africa can also be categorised into 3 periods of fruit maturity as listed below.
Early maturing valencias (June – July)
Mid maturing valencias (July – August)
Late maturing valencias (July – September)