Baboons sniff out a better orange
A baboon is seen near a road outside Cape Town, South Africa, last year.
January 13th, 2011
01:51 PM ET

Baboons sniff out a better orange

Want to find the sweetest citrus in the orchard? Ask a baboon.

A group of baboons in South Africa is being credited with sniffing out a new, sweeter variety of orange.

Alwyn van der Merwe, production director of ALG Estates near Citrusdal, South Africa, said the farm noticed that baboons that come down to the farm from nearby mountains each year always went to feed from a particular tree among the thousands in the orchards. The animals stripped the tree clean of fruit well before others in the orchard were in season, he said.

"At closer inspection we discovered that the brix [sweetness grade] of this particular minneola, a soft citrus variety, was much higher than the rest of the orchard and that it started bearing fruit at least three weeks earlier than expected," van der Merwe said, according to a report in the Mail & Guardian newspaper.

" It was clearly a case of a spontaneous mutation in the orchard, which would have gone unnoticed were it not for the baboons,” van der Merwe is quoted as saying.

Growers have begun grafting shoots from the baboon’s favorite tree onto other root stock and hope to be producing large quantities of the sweeter minneola in a few years.

And he knows the baboons will likely be the first customers.

"I'm sure they will have a feast one day when we produce a whole orchard of these early sweet minneolas," he said.

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Filed under: Animals • South Africa
soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. GaGa

    Walmart needs to hire this baboon. The oranges I bought there recently weren't sweet at all.

    January 13, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • dog

      You dis Wal-mart you dis the whole trailer park!

      January 13, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      If Walmart were to hire baboons, who would be in congress?

      January 13, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • pigpork

      interesting????? ........

      January 13, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wisdom4u2

      Trailer Park my ash!!!

      I like Walmart and I've saved a bundle; Enough to buy my 5,300 sq. ft. home and a new fuel-efficient Chevrolet Traverse!!! Ha-ha-ha, I'm laughing all the way to the bank!!! Cheers for Walmart!!

      January 14, 2011 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aaron

      Wal-Mart should hire people half as smart as the baboons.

      January 15, 2011 at 12:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Keeeshawrn

      I agree wisdom, my gated, golf course home is quite nice. I shop there and I'm laughing all the way to bank too!

      January 15, 2011 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  2. yep

    There are some already there...have you not seen

    January 13, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. EvilEmperor

    Jessica Tandy

    January 13, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. EvilEmperor

    Crypt Keeper

    January 13, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. EvilEmperor

    Hey I'm not opposed to making fun of Walmart, but I'm curious why they're the only store who gets all the attention? I could walk into any store in America and have most the stuff made overseas. Best Buy, Macy's, K-Mart and many other stores carry mostly foreign made goods.

    January 13, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • GaGa

      I guess because there's a Walmart on every corner now.

      January 13, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • neoritter

      Here's the thing though, most food produce in the US is domestic. So the statement is completely moot.

      January 13, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • neoritter

      January 13, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Because Best Buy, Macy's and K-mart don't sell produce.
      Actually, I'd be QUITE alarmed if Best Buy were selling oranges!

      January 13, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Lori

    I think it's great that the farmers see the baboons as helping and not infringing on their crop. Yes! for their sense of sharing and GREAT world view!

    January 13, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      I learned long ago to "listen" to the critters. They know the foods that will give the best nutrition for them. They know diseased plants and avoid them. They know where water is in a desert. And the know when a predator is nearby.
      So, a bit of sharing gave that citrus grove a new edge toward profit.

      January 13, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • MrsFizzy

      Hmm...usually that "sharing" does not last! :-\

      January 13, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • eddie2010

      What the article fails to mention is that the farmers also shot all the baboons, right before grafting the tree.

      January 14, 2011 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Musomesa

      Actually the reason the baboons are visiting the farms is because most of the forest where they would find wild fruit are gone. A lot of the land has been subdivided into very small lots as the population has grown so relatively few the large farms are the only place for the baboons and monkeys to go.

      January 16, 2011 at 1:01 am | Report abuse |
  7. EvoDevo

    Baboons in the vanguard again!

    January 13, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. freetime1

    Sounds like they would do a better job pick fruit here in florida then the illegal aliens doing it now. Add to that that they will not be sending there pay to Mexico, it could work.

    January 13, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Homer Simpson

    walmart is were all the inbreed morons let it all hang out, check out the website mentioned in an earlier blog. Truly entertaining in a sad but true kinda way, people really should look at themselves before they go out.

    January 13, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • lewtwo

      That is being unfair to the real baboons.

      January 13, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. drudge

    Baboons to be used soon to sniff out terrorist.

    January 13, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mangoose

      We want them (Baboons) also give a HARD LETHAL BITE on them as well.

      January 13, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Brian

    Why did they use a picture of Sarah Palin for this article?

    January 13, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah Palinski

      Hey, Hey, Hey...Brian....Do you see any designer eyeglasses, Huh? That's Bristol....

      January 15, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jeff Frank

    Just what we need in Washington to "sniff out" bleeding heart liberals destroying our country.

    January 13, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      And sniff out half-wits, so best to stay away from the oranges!

      January 15, 2011 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
  13. Me

    Mineola is a tangelo, not an orange. It is a cross between a tangerine and a pumelo.

    January 13, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bananaman


      January 14, 2011 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
  14. AMERICA 1st

    i bet those baboons could teach the one in washington all about being fruit fanciers!

    January 13, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. bambam

    I bet if you ran around all day sniffing a*s. you could smell the sweetest orange to

    January 13, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
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