Farm workers in South Africa had been noticing year after year that some of the tangerine trees on the farms were stripped of fruit before others. This confusing situation wasn't explained until one farm worker saw baboons picking the fruit from the tree that ripened three to four weeks before all the other trees at the farm. Tests were conducted on the tree and the fruit and those tests revealed the fruit is sweeter and ripened faster. The owner of the farm, Alwyn van der Merwe, grafted more of the quicker ripening and sweeter trees which will help Van Der Merwe get into a profitable niche in the U.S. market because his trees can produce faster.
According to the head of South Africa's Citrus Growers Association, Justin Chadwick, experts are always looking for ways to ripen fruits earlier or later than they naturally would. Alwyn van der Merwe feels his tree naturally mutated which Chadwick confirms does happen and should be something farmers should watch for.
Van Der Merwe still hasn't named his new tangerine and might just give the baboons who discovered them a nod when the name is chosen. Even if he doesn't, he will be leaving a crate of tangerines for the baboons when the next harvest comes around.