Citrus are among the oldest fruits known to man. The first citrus fruit originated more than four thousand years ago in tropical Southeast Asia, or, what is today, Malaysia. These trees, prized for their fragrant blossoms, were used for seasoning, beauty treatments, cleansing agents and embalming. However, they were not the common orange or lemon that we know today. It was probably the citron, a type of citrus that is not edible, that first made its way to Italy and later Europe hundreds of years ago. The citron was used in Europe for moth repellent, fragrance and as an antidote for poison. In 1565, Ponce de Leon brought citrus seeds to what is now Florida and ordered his sailors to plant them wherever they landed. This helped spread citrus throughout Mexico and Central America. Early sailors used citrus fruit on their voyages to prevent scurvy, a disease caused by vitamin C deficiency. By 1579, orange trees were growing in Florida in St. Augustine, the oldest European settlement in the United States. The Louisiana citrus industry began in the late 1700s when early settlers planted citrus seeds along the Mississippi River below New Orleans. Serious citrus farming began in the 1850s with budded tree planting being introduced in about 1878. The early 1800s witnessed the introduction of the satsuma tree to the United States. By 1890, this citrus variety was planted extensively across South Louisiana. In 1841, a Kentucky trapper named John Wolfskil settled in what is now Los Angeles. There he planted orange and lemon seedlings obtained from the San Gabriel Mission. This was probably the first major planting of citrus in California. He shipped fruit to San Francisco where the Gold Rush was just beginning. In 1873, the navel orange was introduced to California by pioneer Eliza Tibbets. The United States Department of Agriculture had received navel orange trees as a gift from Brazil. The oranges was valuable due to its seedless fruit.
Louisiana citrus products, which include Washington navel oranges, satsuma mandarins, lemons, grapefruit and kumquats, are harvested from October through February. The peak season is Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. Citrus products are grown in the Southern part of the state with the largest production occurring in Plaquemines Parish. Louisiana citrus products are sold on the wholesale market and at roadside fruit stands.
Pictures of navel oranges, satsumas, lemons, grapefruit and kumquats
Pic of orchard
Citrus is known for its high content of Vitamin C, which is required by the body for strong gums, healthy body tissues and for the prevention of a disease called scurvy. Oranges, lemons, grapefruits and tangerines are low calorie, low sodium, low cholesterol foods that are good sources of carbohydrates and fiber.
Citrus varieties are different based on cold hardiness. Here is a list of varieties beginning with the most cold-hardy ones to most tender:
Kumquats, satsumas, sweet oranges, navel oranges, mandarin, grapefruit, tangerines, tangelo, lemons, and limes.
The satsuma is the most common citrus grown by Louisiana homeowners. This is because it is easy to peel, easy to manage and allows homeowners to eat the fruit for a long period of time.
For every one citrus flower bud that turns into a fruit, 99 never make it because they fall off the tree. After bloom, it takes from 5 to 18 months for fruit to develop.
Commercial growers propagate citrus by grafting or budding to ensure they will get the same high-quality fruit.
Citrus is one of the few fruits that can be left on the tree without becoming overripe, and unlike many other fruits, citrus does not continue to ripen after it is picked.
Citrus will grow in almost any kind of soil as long as it drains well.
Navel oranges are named that because of the belly-button formation opposite the stem end. The bigger the navel in an orange, the sweeter it will be.
TERMS TO KNOW
Budding - A method of asexual propagation in plants
Grafting - Process of joining two plants together to grow as one
Grove - A small wood, orchard, or group of trees
Propagation - The breeding of specimens of a plant or animal by natural processes from the parent stock
Scurvy - A disease resulting from a lack of vitamin C
Orange Jello Salad II
Louisiana Farm Bureau Women Cookbook, Page 75