Taking Care of Texas Oranges
Image by Christine â„¢ via Flickr
Oranges are one of world's most temperamental fruits. They grow exceptionally well in warm, humid climates. But when the temperature falls below 20 degrees Celsius, oranges crops are often damaged. This is a particularly important concern in the United States, where oranges are only grown for commercial distribution in four states–Florida, California, Texas and Arizona. In this article we are going to take a look at Texas oranges and explain why they are such a sought after fruit.
According to the most recent statistics, the orange is the world's third most popular fruit after tomatoes and bananas. Each year, more than sixty million tons of the ancient fruit are shipped around the world. The United States is currently the second leading producer of oranges on earth, after Brazil.
As we mentioned, Texas oranges are prized for their exceptional taste, but the Lone Star State is still a relatively minor player in the American orange industry. Not surprisingly, Florida dominates the citrus market with over three- quarters of all domestic orange and grapefruit shipments.
There are many reasons why Texas oranges are but a bit player in the lucrative orange industry. The first and most obvious is the oranges came late to Texas. Though there are no exact dates, it is believed that the first orange crops in Texas were not cultivated until the beginning of the twentieth century. One thing we know for certain is that the commercial orange industry in Texas did not begin making shipments until 1921, nearly a century after the formation of the Florida orange industry.
But timing is only half the story. There is also the amount of available acreage to consider. You see, oranges are a tropical fruit and they grow best in a tropical or subtropical climate. Unfortunately, there is only one region in Texas meets these environmental requirements. By comparison, over half of the land in Florida is idea for growing oranges. Let us take a moment to discuss what it takes to grow Texas oranges.
About ninety percent of the oranges that are grown in Texas are cultivated in a region known as the Rio Grande Valley. This region has the ideal soil and climate for growing oranges. However, when you venture a few miles to the north, growing oranges can be complicated.
Just a few degrees colder in the winter months can damage an entire crop of Texas oranges and other citrus fruits. That is why many orange farmers who live north of the Rio Grande Valley must resort to extraordinary measures. This often involves wrapping trees in plastic when the temperature falls. Many farmers even build large greenhouses in order to ensure that they will have some control over the temperature.