The Rise of the Texas Grapefruit Industry

By : | 0 Comments | On : May 22, 2013 | Category : Buy Grapefruit

The Texas flag

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The first grapefruit crop in Texas was planted in 1893. The state had joined the union only a few decades earlier in 1845 and farmers were desperate for reliable agricultural products. Though cotton and cattle had been sold for years, there was a definite dearth of fruits and vegetables. With the highest acreage of arable land in the nation, farmers were free to experiment a bit with exotic crops. The grapefruit was one of them.

The new fruit had come from Florida, which cultivated its first grapefruit crops in 1823. But few Floridians actually enjoyed the taste or agreed to buy grapefruit. Not to mention the fact that the Sunshine State was home to the orange industry. As a result, the grapefruit was little more than a novelty fruit.

So, when Spanish missionaries brought the strange new fruit to South Texas, its reputation came with it. Farmers knew that it was sour and that people might not buy grapefruit. But what they did not know is that the subtropical climate and the nutrient-rich soil made the region where they resided one of the greatest on earth for growing grapefruit.

The area is called the Rio Grande Valley and the first crops of grapefruit in Texas where planted there. Unfortunately, farmers met with little success getting people to actually buy grapefruit. Most of the locals agreed that the fruit was simply too sour

For the next few decades, farmers cultivated small crops of grapefruit, selling some to folks who had a taste for the exotic fruit. But there was no commercial grapefruit industry in Texas. Farmers and orchard owners simply did not believe that the fruit could be successful on a nationwide or even statewide basis. That was until 1929.

What happened in 1929 to make people want to buy grapefruit? A brand-new variety of grapefruit was discovered. Officially, this new variety was a simple mutation. It had red flesh instead of the original white. But if the color had been the only difference, it is unlikely that the populace would have paid attention. No, the new variety was also much sweeter and juicer than either the white or the pink grapefruit.

Farmers knew that they had a winner on their hands when locals finally agreed to buy grapefruit. In the next few years, the newly christened Ruby red grapefruit gave birth to a massive grapefruit industry in Texas. Encouraged by this success, Florida grapefruit farms began popping up all over the state. By the 1940's, the two states were responsible for half of the grapefruits on earth.

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