Now Is The Time!
For winter citrus! One of the many benefits of living in The Great State of
California is the abundant variety of winter citrus grown here.
California is home to one of the best climates for growing oranges and other citrus in the entire world!
Did you know, however, that oranges and other citrus fruits are not native to The Americas?
Spanish explorers brought oranges to The New world on their sailing ships in the early 1500s. Bernal Diaz Castillo claimed in his book, The Conquest Of New Spain, to have planted the seeds of an orange he ate on a hillside overlooking Veracruz Bay in 1519. By the early 1700s Spanish missionaries in Southern California were cultivating a variety of citrus fruits.
Within 100 years, the first commercial citrus orchards had been
planted in what is now downtown Los Angeles. These included lemons and oranges. With the advent of the gold rush of 1849, came a huge demand for oranges in the gold country because of the established fact that fresh citrus is useful in combating scurvy, a vitamin C deficiency.
In 1873 The U.S. Department of Agriculture obtained cuttings from an orange tree that grew at a Brazilian monastery. This tree was a mutation that was very sweet and seedless. Some of these cuttings were sent to Eliza Tibbets, a spiritualist and woman suffrage activist in Riverside, California. These trees produced a superior fruit that was deemed better than any other citrus fruit around. Nearly all navel orange trees grown in California are descended from Tibbets’ original trees. One of these trees, now near 150 years old, still stands and bears fruit in Riverside!
By the late 1800’s citrus production was the economic base for California and now one
hundred plus years later, it still plays a very important part in our state’s economy.