Florida citrus is in season

Florida citrus is harvested October through June. Most of Florida’s citrus is processed for juice, but plenty of fresh fruit remains for sale. It is Florida’s most valuable crop, with over 430,000 acres in citrus groves throughout the state.

Various kinds of citrus ripen at different times. Temple and Valencia oranges, tangerines and red grapefruit are available now for eating fresh. Check local produce stands or pick your own citrus; see Deer Park Peaches Facebook page for select “U-pick” dates.

Unfortunately, since the 2000’s, citrus greening disease has been impacting Florida citrus. The disease shortens the life of the trees and decreases fruit quality. With citrus greening, many former citrus groves were converted to development. When agricultural land is developed, it can no longer provide benefits like supplying us food, agritourism or aquifer recharge. Conserving agricultural lands is essential to the health of our environment,  our economy, and our food security.

Many researchers have been working to overcome citrus greening. New greening-resistant citrus varieties are now being grown, and improved fertilization programs are being used that keep trees healthier to resist the effects of greening.

Understandably, many people think oranges should be orange when they are ready to pick. In fact, according to aroundosceola.com, many citrus in Florida are still green on the tree when they are fully ripe and ready to eat. Citrus fruits turn color in response to cool temperatures, which sometimes do not occur in Florida. To meet consumer expectations of how citrus is “supposed” to look, many citrus fruits are treated with harmless ethylene gas or even dyed to color their peels. Some Florida citrus may have blemishes on the peel, but this does not affect the quality of the fruit inside.

Photo source: Dreamstime.com

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