Growing Texas Oranges

By: Pittman & Davis | On: | Category: Grower Insights
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Oranges first came to Texas at the end of the nineteenth-century. Since that time, crops have been cultivated in one relatively small section of the state. The region is known as the Rio Grande Valley and it is located in South Texas. Because it has a subtropical climate and fertile soil, this region is perfect for growing citrus fruits like Texas oranges and grapefruit. In this article we are going to discuss the Texas citrus industry.

Why grow oranges in Texas? Compared to Florida, Texas farmland is far more affordable. Not to mention the fact that the Florida citrus market is extremely competitive. According to the latest reports, Florida produces about three quarters of the oranges in the United States. That makes them the second largest orange grower in the world, after Brazil.

By comparison, Texas oranges account for only about two percent of the US market. The reason for this is simple: Florida has more than six times as much arable orange land as Texas. Where to begin?

Most people who choose to plant Texas oranges attempt to grow trees from seed. While this is, of course, possible, it is much easier to plant a tree as a seedling. But for many, planting a tree from seed is a challenge, and if it grows and eventually bears fruit, many farmers consider it an accomplishment.

However, before you plant Texas oranges, you must consider the variety of orange. For example, the most popular orange in the world, the navel orange, cannot be planted from seed. This particular orange is a sterile mutation, which means that it can only be cultivated by cutting and grafting.

There is an obvious benefit to producing navel oranges in the Lone Star state, and that is that all navel oranges are clones. Which means the only thing that differentiates them is the environment in which they were grown. And since Texas is one of the best climates in the world for growing Texas oranges, Navel oranges are one of their top citrus sellers.

Now, at this point, planting Texas oranges may seem like a great idea. But we have saved the bad news for last. You see, the orange is an incredibly sensitive fruit and cold weather can kill thousands of acres of crops in short order. Not to mention the fact that South Texas has notoriously mercurial weather. In fact, over the past half century, the entire crop of Texas oranges has been wiped out by frost on more than one occasion.

In the end, cultivating Texas oranges is an extremely risky and potentially profitable enterprise.

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