Send Grapefruit from the Rio Grande Valley
Image by exfordy via Flickr
When the grapefruit came to South Texas at the end of the 19th century, farmers were in desperate need of new agricultural crops. At the time, cotton and sugarcane were leading crops, but there was still fallow land to be tilled. The only real question was whether anyone would buy or send grapefruit.
A half a century earlier, the exotic new citrus fruit had come to Florida where it met with little success. Most people felt that it simply too sour, and the fact that it was not a hand fruit certainly didn't help. Then the grapefruit came to Texas.
Though grapefruit fans were still few and far between, one thing was undeniable: grapefruit grew like wildfire in South Texas. The reason for this is simple–grapefruit is a subtropical fruit and South Texas has a subtropical climate. Not to mention some of the most nutrient-rich soil in the world. But even so, farmers were often forced to send grapefruit for free and give it away.
The grapefruit would remain a mere novelty until a serendipitous discovery on a small orchard in 1929. While science classifies the fruit as a simple mutation, the new “Ruby” variety of grapefruit basically created an industry in a few short years. The new red grapefruit was not only much sweeter than its predecessors, but it was also juicier and more nutritious. It is no wonder then why farmers suddenly started to send grapefruit all over the state.
The center of all this activity was the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. On only about 20 thousand acres, farmers and orchard owners established an industry that would send grapefruit statewide, then nationwide. In time, this relatively small region would become the citrus capital of the nation, though it was soon surpassed by Florida.
On this land, farmers produced oranges, tangerines, tangelos and lemons. At present, Texas is the third largest producer of citrus fruit in the country, after Florida and California. Most of this fruit comes out of the Rio Grande Valley. As you might expect, grapefruit dominates the market and accounts for more than 70 percent of all citrus shipments from the region.
How popular is the Ruby variety? By 1962 the state of Texas eliminated its predecessors, the white and pink grapefruit, and decreed that only the Ruby could be sold in the Lone Star State. But this did not bother farmers one bit because when they would send grapefruit it was often the red variety anyway.