Sunny Citrus in California

Nutmeg was curious, in December she and Ginger had fresh squeezed orange juice every morning from the tree outside the door in Palm Desert.  However, in June no decent oranges, lemons or grapefruits for any juice.  The trees are still very healthy and there are signs of fruit to come, although not anytime soon…

So Nutmeg wondered: do the trees only bare fruit once a year? The answer is yes, unfortunately.

Is California really the place for citrus?  The answer is yes although it is not the leader in US production.  The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) publishes monthly results and forecasts by state and by type of produce; oranges “non-Valencia”, oranges “Valencia”, grapefruit, tangerines, tangelos, lemons etc.  Florida by far has the largest production (131 million boxes – forecast for 2010), followed by California (59 million), Texas (1,6 million) and Arizona weighs in with some minor production.  Total US production forecast for 2010 is 192 million boxes. Interesting to note, Brazil is actually the largest producer of orange juice in the world, followed by the USA, then Mexico.  Europe’s overall production has been declining although Spain does produce lots of oranges – hence the names Valencia and Seville.

Although not entirely precise it is widely thought from the research that citrus fruits began to appear in Asia around 4000BC.  The name orange is thought to have derived from Sanskrit.  From Asia the cultivation spread slowly to Africa then to southern Europe.  The Spaniards brought the plants to the Americas.  World trade in orange juice began in the 1940s.

A few more interesting tidbits:

  • Blood Oranges were discovered and cultivated in Sicily in the 15th century
  • The Chinese have the largest world wide production of those fantastic little mandarins
  • The navel orange was a result of a single mutation in the 1820s, at a monastery orchard in Brazil
  • The Spanish Valencia orange was the official mascot (“Naranjito“) of the 1982 FIFA World Cup

Christmas Clemantines

So Nutmeg’s questions are answered and she is having to satisfy her thirst with Tropicana OJ – made from Brazil and US oranges.


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