The kinnow is a variety of citrus fruit cultivated extensively in Punjab region. It is a hybrid of two citrus cultivars — "King" (Citrus nobilis) x "Willow Leaf" (Citrus deliciosa) — first developed by H. B. Frost at the Citrus Research Centre of the University of California, Riverside, USA. After evaluation, the kinnow was released as a new variety for commercial cultivation in 1935. In 1940, Punjab Agriculture College and Research Institute, Faisalabad, Pakistan, introduced the kinnow. It has become an important variety in the Punjab province of Pakistan, occupying a major part of the area under cultivation for fruit crops.
The kinnow fruit is large and orange, with 12 to 25 seeds and a globular shape. It matures in January or February. This "easy peel" citrus has assumed special economic importance and export demand due to its high juice content, special flavour, and as a rich source of vitamin C. The factors which have contributed to the success of this fruit are its beautiful golden-orange colour (a major asset from a marketing viewpoint), its abundant juice, and its excellent aroma and taste. Its trees are highly productive; it is not uncommon to find 1000 fruits per tree. Handsome returns, much higher than those obtained from most of other fruit crops, can be had from well looked-after kinnow orchards by adopting proper methods of cultivation.
Kinnow fruits have more seeds per wedge than other citrus fruits. The high seed content of this variety is a major hindrance in out-of-hand eating. Some workers have made efforts to select seedless kinnows by survey or by the use of mutants. The seeds of kinnow are naturally diploid or tetraploid. Seedless triploid varieties have been developed, but these are still undergoing testing to ascertain whether the fruit is healthy for consumption.
Export from Asia
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: Bahrain, Dubai, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Afghanistan, Netherlands, Philippines, Singapore, the United Kingdom and Vietnam. Indonesia has also offered market access to kinnow, from Pakistan at zero per cent.
Harvesting and handling
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%.
Food processing includes the selection of good-quality mandarins. The ideal kinnow is firm to slightly soft, smooth-skinned with no deep grooves, and deep orange to almost red. Human hands can better judge and avoid product with soft spots, dull and faded coloring or rough and bumpy skin. Punjab Agricultural University in Ludhiana, Punjab has developed new technologies for obtaining higher yields of better quality fruits under the conditions of Indian Punjab. These fruits can be stored at room temperature conditions or under cold storage conditions.
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- India: PepsiCo starts processing of Kinnow in Punjab
- Pakistan: Kinno exports expected to rise with seedless variety in sight