Friday, June 26, 2015


Recently while driving across Southern California, in the area east of Bakersfield, I had the opportunity to observe orange groves in various stages of development.  A later consultation on Wikipedia helped me understand what I was seeing.  I learned that commercially grown orange trees are propagated asexually by grafting a mature cultivar onto a suitable seedling rootstock. 

At first, this part of California was growing mainly wheat.  However, in 1769, Catholic Franciscan monks brought oranges to San Diego.  An orchard was planted at the San Gabriel Mission around 1804; later, in 1841, a commercial orchard was established near present-day Los Angeles.  (This gives me one more reason to be thankful for the Christian faith---its missionaries introduced this delicious fruit to the Western United States!)  Agriculture statistics have listed orange trees as the most cultivated fruit tree in the world!  The locations with the highest production are Brazil, Florida, and California.  Oranges from Florida are used mainly for juice, whereas California oranges are mostly for fresh consumption. 
Since oranges are rich in Vitamin C, and do not spoil easily, during the Age of Discovery, Portuguese , Spanish, and Dutch sailors planted citrus trees along trade routes, to prevent scurvy .   Besides orange trees, they planted lime trees, which is the origin of the nickname "limey" for a sailor.
When studying the history of orange growing in California, I learned that it was a woman, Eliza Tibbets, who is considered the founder of the California citrus industry in its present form.  The story goes that in 1873, the United States Department of Agriculture shipped two small Navel orange trees to Riverside, California resident, Eliza Tibbets.   She successfully nurtured the trees, and saw that they produced a sweet and flavorful fruit, that has a tiny "twin fruit", on top of its 10-segmented, larger fruit.  Word spread about the delicious harvest, and the California citrus industry was born!  (And who says, one person cannot make a difference!)  Imagine the PATIENCE it must have taken for Mrs. Tibbets, day after day, to tend to the little trees with frequent watering, insect control, and checking for harmful plant fungi!  I am using her example as the visual aid for my First Place 4 Health ( ) memory verse that says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, PATIENCE, kindness, goodness, faithfulness gentleness, and self-control.  Against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23).  Thanks to her PATIENCE, we can enjoy a delicious orange-colored FRUIT!
In the days before mechanical harvesting, thousands of workers would hand pick the ripe fruit from the orange trees.  Did you know it is actually a law that forbids harvesting immature oranges in Texas, California, and Florida?  One reason for this is because oranges are non-climacteric.  This means that will not post-harvest ripen in response to ethylene gas, as can many other fruit crops. 
Today, canopy-shaking mechanical harvesters are used to harvest oranges, and usually pick the crop once they are pale orange.

Even though the oranges on this tree appear to be fully orange-colored, I did not get to witness any mechanical harvesting taking place.

There seemed to be lots of fruit laying on the ground, just begging to be picked up!   However, the hazy grid you can barely see in this photograph, let you know there is chain-link fence between me and the orchard!  Likewise, there were plenty of "KEEP OUT" signs that discouraged "orange rustlers"!
However, I was content to just enjoy the spectacle of the colorful orchards, and suppressed my frugal-mindset-of-concern that the fruit might be going to waste!  Seeing all these oranges along my driving route made me hungry for the taste of an orange, thankful for their beautiful deliciousness, and gave me "MILES OF SMILES"!!    Tricia