Are We Paying a Price for Seedless Clementines?

The controversy over growing seedless fruit.

January/February 2009

By EatingWell Editors

Are We Paying a Price for Seedless Clementines?

There’s a storm brewing in the California citrus belt over clementines. People prefer seedless clementines—the smallest of the mandarins—so much so that farmers earn up to four times more for seedless varieties. As a result, growers try to keep bees out of their orchards because if a bee that’s been pollinating another citrus fruit (e.g., oranges) pollinates these "seedless" varieties, presto: seeds in your clementine. Which is why, in 2007, growers supported legislation that would forbid beekeepers from locating hives within two miles of designated clementine orchards. But beekeepers argued that these "no-fly zones" would harm other agricultural crops, such as almonds and peaches. To come to a solution, the Seedless Mandarin and Honeybee Coexistence Working Group was formed. Stakeholders met last year and a resolution is expected in February 2009.

Regardless of whether clementines have seeds, they’re a tasty, nutritious snack: in two you get a day’s worth of vitamin C, for only 70 calories.