Thursday, November 30, 2023

Florida, Texas, and California: Partners in Working with Climate Change


Who doesn't love juicy, delicious citrus right off the tree? Here at Florida Fruit Shippers, it is our number one priority. Year after year, we work closely with local, sustainable growers in the fertile soils of central Florida to make sure you are receiving the freshest produce available.  Lately, the climate has been more unpredictable than in the past, with climate change accounting for bigger and more damaging storms during the summer months, longer periods of freezing in the wintertime, saltwater intrusion, and changing, uneven weather patterns. Climate change is a global reality, so what can we do about it?

A Small Carbon Footprint

Agriculture is one of the most impactful ways in which humans can affect the environment. Add to this fact that by 2050, there will be a dramatic increase in the need to feed people. Fortunately, of all of the foods produced globally, citrus has the very lowest carbon dioxide emission per kilogram, with an emission value of only 0.39. Compare that to beef, which comes in at a whopping 99.48! So, we can be reassured that citrus growing is a sustainable industry, and one that has not added to nor contributed fuel to the encroaching fire of climate change. Furthermore, the citrus industry is currently being used as a model for sustainably feeding people well into the future, when the demand for nourishing food is expected only to increase.

Climate Effects on Citrus Growing

While it is good to know that citrus growing is not adversely affecting the environment, climate change-induced weather events have the increasing potential to adversely affect the citrus groves. As such, we must diligently work to counter these effects by modifying our approaches. The Florida Citrus Belt, as it is known, is located right in the crosshairs of both hurricane tracks (see diagram above) and the southern reaches of cold fronts. As both of these events increase in intensity with climate change, the effects are noteworthy: crops can be lost to too many nights of exposure to freezing temperatures, citrus greening and infestations by psyllid insects due to excessive heat and moisture can destroy whole groves, and saltwater intrusion can kill trees at their roots.

Working in Partnership

California and Florida have long influenced each other when it comes to growing citrus, as both states have climates that make them the top producers of most of the varieties that we eat.  Texas comes in as a close second. While in past years that influence has mostly been in the form of sharing research and management techniques, with the onset of climate change, growers in all three states are now cross-pollinating (pun intended) to share their harvests nationally. In the interest of keeping the carbon footprint low and the citrus quality, accessibility, and variety high, we have now expanded our groves to include California and Texas--the "national citrus belt," so to speak. This way, we can all access some really delicious fruit such as Golden Honeybellsclassic Honeybells and late season Navels and Tangerines through January, even after the Florida season when the western fruits hit their flavor peaks. 

So rest assured: you can enjoy and gift all of the varieties of citrus we offer at different times of the year and know that you are also nourishing both your health as well as the health of the planet.


World of Statistics on X: "The environmental impact of foods 

Florida is already seeing climate change. New global report says it could worsen | WUSF

Modeling the carbon footprint of fresh produce: effects of transportation, localness, and seasonality on US orange markets (

How historical trends in Florida all‐citrus production correlate with devastating hurricane and freeze events - Ferrarezi - 2020 - Weather - Wiley Online Library

Inside Florida's citrus groves, where growers are working to solve devastating disease and a climate-related shortage to save America's oranges (

California Citrus Industry Follows in Florida's Research Footsteps - Citrus Industry Magazine

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Thursday, November 16, 2023

Ten Reasons to be Thankful for Citrus!

As is the tradition during this season of gratitude, we have been contemplating all of the reasons we are thankful for citrus fruits. Here are the top ten:

1: It's Available All Winter Long!

Many other nutritious fruits such as berries, grapes, melons, peaches, and plums go dormant in the wintertime, leaving us to expensive and environmentally unfriendly versions imported from long distances, frozen packages, or no availability at all. Thankfully, there are many varieties of citrus fruits that are prime for the picking through the coldest months. Florida Fruit Shippers is well versed in which citrus varieties are available when, as different varieties ripen at various times throughout the colder months. For a guide, see the chart below:

2: It Keeps You Healthy During Cold and Flu Season!
True to nature's perfect design, it figures that these vitamin C-packed fruits would be available when we need immunity boosting the most. There's a reason they call this "cold season": in addition to the temperatures being colder, there is an uptick in flus and colds as
 people become more sedentary and indoor-oriented. 

3: Vitamin C, Baby!
Citrus is famous for being loaded with vitamin C, and vitamin C is famous for being nature's most effective immune system vitamin.  Since your body does not produce vitamin C, it is very important to make sure you are consuming adequate amounts of it daily. Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C works by strengthening your T cells and helping to make more immune cells. Adults need 75-90 milligrams of vitamin C per day; a typical orange or grapefruit contains around 70-80 grams, thereby covering most of your recommended daily allowance. 

4: It Lowers Cholesterol!
Starting your day with an orange, grapefruit, or freshly squeezed orange/grapefruit juice has been clinically proven to reduce total and "bad" LDL cholesterol levels. In males, this reduction was reported at 23%, which is statistically significant. That being said, if you have been prescribed a statin to reduce your cholesterol levels, please check with your doctor before eating grapefruit, as grapefruit can interfere with the efficacy of some (but not all) statins.
5: Bring On the Flavonoids!
In addition to Vitamin C, citrus fruits are loaded with a class of compounds called flavonoids, which account for the vibrant colors in many fruits, flowers, and vegetables. "Eating the rainbow" is great advice, because flavonoids are known for their anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.  Not surprisingly, all citrus types are loaded with flavonoids. 
6: Potassium and Iron!
Who would need a multivitamin when citrus is in their diet? In addition to vitamin C and flavonoids, citrus is chock full of potassium, which is so important for blood pressure regulation. In addition, the vitamin C in these remarkable fruits boosts the bioavailability of iron, which can be particularly important for vegetarians.

7: It's Portable and Packable!
There aren't too many foods that come in their own packaging, have a long shelf life, are hardy for transporting without being damaged easily, and don't require any extra utensils or tools to access the delicious fruit inside. Enter citrus: nature's original portable snack! For kids, try some of the easy peel options like Florida Fallglo tangerines and Sol Zest mandarins.
8: It's Youth-Boosting!
In a time when expensive anti-aging products are everywhere you turn, the humble citrus fruit offers an affordable, natural, option. It hydrates skin from the inside out, is full of fiber which helps the body eliminate toxins that dull the complexion and lower energy, and that wonder vitamin C helps boost collagen production to keep skin elastic and supple. 

9: It's an Affordable and Unique Gift!
This time of the year, it can be challenging and stressful to find gifts for friends, loved ones, and colleagues that are affordable, meaningful, and unusual. Enter citrus! A bonus: by ordering directly from Florida Fruit Shippers, you don't have to go to the store, wrap anything, or stand in long lines at the post office. Just make sure you check the shipping deadlines for your region so you know your gift will arrive in plenty of time.

Whether you like sweet, sour, or a combination of the two, citrus provides!  Fresh picked fruits are so delicious that you can enjoy all the varieties and never even guess that it's incredibly good for your body, too. 

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Florida Fruit Shippers!


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Wednesday, November 8, 2023

'Tis the (Picking) Season!

Here at Florida Fruit Shippers, late October and early November are an exciting time of year. After the lull of the hot summer, when citrus trees in our groves are growing green and lush in full sunlight, certain varieties of citrus such as grapefruits, navel oranges, and tangerines ripen to their full glory and become ready for harvest in the autumn. Meanwhile, other varieties continue to mature and sweeten through the cooler months so that they can be picked and enjoyed well into winter and the new year. 

Photo by Wendy Aros-Routman 

What is a Citrus Growing Season?

In what is known as the "Citrus Belt," the subtropical part of the United States that includes southern California, parts of Arizona and Texas, and Florida, citrus can grow year-round. As such, it's always "citrus growing season" in these areas, and despite variations in fruit harvesting seasons and a dormant period during colder winters, citrus trees are always in a stage of growth and fruit development. For those of us who are most interested in eating the delicious fruits, however, we are more interested in "harvest" or "picking" season versus "growing season." Harvest season varies according to the type of fruit and various latitude, soil, and climate change-induced factors such as temperature variability, water availability, storms, diseases such as citrus greening, and other dynamic conditions. Generally, however, there is a pattern that we can rely on from year to year across the collective citrus belt, climate change factors notwithstanding. 

Drop and Give Me Three

Drop three stages, that is, of citrus fruit development! In Florida, mature citrus trees typically bloom after the winter dormant period, producing a lovely fragrance reminiscent of gardenias, jasmine, honey, and citrus-scented essential oils. After blooming, the first phase leading to fruit production is the dropping of unpollinated flowers, which can be up to eighty percent of the total blossoms on each tree.  The second drop stage occurs when the tree releases marble-sized green fruits, and a third drop stage occurs for almost-ripe fruits that didn't quite "make the cut." This is simply nature's ingenious way of ensuring that all of the tree's energy is focused on the best possible fruit outcome. It is interesting to note that, unlike some other types of fruits, citrus will not ripen once separated from the tree, so fruit must be picked at its peak of ripeness to be enjoyed. In the groves, we do our best to support this natural design by providing the most nourishing conditions for these cycles to occur and picking them at their peak ripeness, thereby naturally harvesting the most delicious fruit!

Ripe for the Picking

Of course, it follows that the larger the citrus variety, the more months it takes to ripen, and so each type of citrus tree will blossom, drop, fruit, and ripen at different times of the year-- depending on variety, latitude and growing conditions--to allow for these various gestation periods. Grapefruits, being the largest, likewise usually take the longest, and we get to reap the benefits of a long ripening period that starts in early spring as one of the first citrus fruits of the season--and in three delicious varieties! The other first citrus of the season is the much smaller but equally delicious tangerine, which despite its small size has a rather long ripening period that also begins in the springtime. Florida Fallglo Tangerines are a special and very tasty variety, only available in November, that have become the benchmark fruit to mark the beginning of the citrus harvest season. Navel oranges are also ready this time of year.

So, as we embark on this festive season of "Season's Greetings," we can also greet the new citrus harvest with mouthwatering anticipation. Enjoy!


Citrus Flowering Season: When Do Citrus Blossoms Bloom (

Winter Fruits: It's Harvest Time for Sunshine Citrus (

2011_Dec_factors_citrus.pdf (

Citrus Trees: How to Grow Lemons, Oranges, Limes, and Other Citrus Fruit | The Old Farmer's Almanac

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