Davidson Brothers

Shipping only $12 per item

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Where did Citrus Originally Come From?

After a hundred years of Citrus prosperity in Florida, it’s hard to imagine oranges coming from anywhere but the Americas. Historically, however, citrus traveled an immense distance before finally arriving in the Indian River area.

Columbus introduced citrus to
The New World in 1493.
Citrus was actually introduced to The New World on November 22nd, 1493 by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the Americas. At the time, Citrus’ ability to cure scurvy wasn’t yet understood, so Columbus’ decision to bring it aboard was deliberately to test its ability to grow in the new soil along with other plants and livestock in what is now Haiti.

At the time, citrus fruit was a symbol of luxury and health in Europe, having spread over hundreds of years from the Middle East, China, and India along centuries-old trade routes. Before that, there isn’t a lot of historical information. Until recently, most historians agreed that citrus probably originated in Southeast Asia.

Left: Citron
Right: Pummelo
Scientists have since found clues in the genetic code of citrus that help them gaze back even further in time. Their research shows that all citrus fruits come from mutations of the citron, the pummelo, or hybrids of the two.

This, along with still more research suggests that these ancestors to the oranges and the grapefruits of today actually came from Southeast Asia’s neighbor, Australasia. This is the group of land masses which include Australia, New Guinea, and New Caledonia. Nobody is certain how they made the jump to Asia, but one of the more interesting ideas is that they simply floated there once they fell off of the trees along prehistoric ocean currents.

It’s interesting to think that thousands of years before Columbus braved the oceans to bring citrus fruits to America, they could have already spent untold hundreds of years on their own sea voyages without ever needing a boat.

Licensed Images

Want to be notified when we post more articles? Sign up for our mailing list!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Why is Indian River Citrus better than other Florida Citrus?

It’s well known that the Oranges and Grapefruit that grow near the Indian River are the absolute best in Florida, but what’s so different about the Indian River area? Why does it produce better fruit?

The answer:  Better Soil.

The composition of Florida soil is ideal for citrus.

In order to grow great citrus in Florida, there are two very important properties that the soil must have:

  1. The soil needs to drain well so that the shallow roots aren’t submerged in water during Florida’s rainy season.  Everyone can probably guess that Florida’s heavy rainfall is great for producing juicy citrus, but few people know that too much rain will actually kill the tree.
  2. There must be plenty of minerals and nutrients in the soil for the trees to grow healthy.

Since Florida is a peninsula, most of the soil throughout the state is very sandy.  This is great for drainage.  The sandy soil rapidly drains away the water after heavy rains.  But sandy soil usually isn’t very nutrient rich.

Florida's sandy soil does a great job draining a high quantity of rainfall.

Sandy soil has a low Cation Exchange Capacity.  This intimidating phrase is just a measure for how well the soil holds on to nutrients.  So sandy soil isn’t enough for growing great citrus in Florida.

At this point, you can probably guess why Indian River citrus is the best in the world… better nutrients!  Much of the soil around indian river is loam soil, which means it is made up of sand, clay, and silt.  Clay and silt have a much higher Cation Exchange Capacity, which means Indian River soil does a much better job of storing all of the nutrients needed for healthy citrus trees.

The colors on this map represent different types of mineral deposits found in Florida's soil.  Note the green band that runs along the Indian River.

So it’s not just your imagination – Indian River citrus really is better.  Just memorize the phrase “Cation Exchange Capacity”, and you’ll be able to impress your friends the next time you’re talking about Indian River citrus.

Licensed Images

Want to be notified when we post more articles? Sign up for our mailing list!