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Author Topic: Question on percieved decline of quality citris fruit  (Read 371 times)


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Question on percieved decline of quality citris fruit
« on: December 05, 2018, 01:11:05 PM »
I just registered on this forum to ask a question that has been bugging me for years

I live in Northern Illinois,
When I was a young kid (early 1970s) the local high school band would have an annual fundraiser where they would sell oranges
probably 15 or 20 pound boxes.

As soon as you brought the box into the house the smell of the oranges permeated the whole house
these things were fragrant, and absolutely delicious!!!

Since that time I have never been able to find anything close to that quality, or flavor  I have ordered oranges from Florida 4 or 5 times but am usually disappointed, the oranges are fine, but no different than what I can get at the local grocery store, and nothing like the ones I remember from 45 years ago,

Is there an explanation?,  perhaps changes to packaging/ shipping ,  the type of orange,  genetic modifications?

Thanks in advance for any information.


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Re: Question on percieved decline of quality citris fruit
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2018, 01:52:26 PM »

There are many different varieties of orange so itis entirely possible that you tasted one variety many years ago from one grower or region but are now ordering a different type of orange from Florida.

I will also say that the flavor of citrus (same tree, same type) will change depending on growing conditions. When I was in the tropics they had green oranges from Brazil that were sweet but without the acid bite that I like to balance the flavors. One reason for this difference may be that Brazil doesn’t get cold enough to stimulate enough acid production in the fruit.

Floridamay be similar. I have bought oranges from Florida that taste differently from the same cultivar grown locally here in California. Very different taste profile. I encourage you to seek out California citrus if you are not satisfied with the options you currently have and give it a try. 


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Re: Question on percieved decline of quality citris fruit
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2018, 02:17:44 PM »
Cold or at least cool weather increases  the brix count,
I have a similiar memory as a kid I ate some perfectly ripened
very seedy tangerines 30 years ago. I was picking them fresh from
a friend's tree and they were the best I have ever eaten. I am pretty
sure they were murcotts.
If you knew the type it would help but usually the best oranges grown in
Central and Southwest Florida are Temples or Pineapples? Then you have to order
them at the perfect time when they have had some cold but not drying out yet. I have a small
Temple tree in my yard and can't wait to try the fruit. I have heard allot of old timers
swear it is the best you can eat in Florida and it ripens in the early Spring after
our cool nights.
The majority of oranges grown are juice oranges in Florida and the groves
check the brix count before they harvest also. Timing is very important and
maybe you can ask the right questions when you order to increase the quality
of oranges you receive?


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Re: Question on percieved decline of quality citris fruit
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2018, 02:24:08 PM »
Try the " Hamlin " variety, those usually have a very strong citrus smell and are deliciously juicy and very sweet. However, the citrus industry is really hurting because of the Asian Citrus Psyllid and the Citrus Greening Disease.
“When life gives you lemons, throw it back & say, “I said I wanted a MANGO!”


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Re: Question on percieved decline of quality citris fruit
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2018, 03:29:09 PM »
Your senses do not lie!

The ideal citrus growing areas are also worth way more as real estate. You should seek out home-grown citrus.

Back in the 70's San Diego and other similar areas(see Chinatown) were being heavily developed. Orange groves were bulldozed and flattened in order to put new suburbs up. Nowadays they don't even build houses on parcels large enough to have a yard.

I have been lucky enough to taste citrus from orchards which predate the race to develop So-Cal. The trees suffer from a very high level of neglect, and don't receive any water at all (but they are very well established), and therefore drop most of their crop. It's hard to believe how good citrus can taste under those conditions. Those were probably the last of the trees of that era though and will be torn up later this year.

As more people move to ideal citrus growing locations, growers are forced to select more marginal areas, which leads to less tasty fruit.

With globalization becoming more and more idealized, you can expect a much more difficult time finding commercially available fruit of high quality. In case you don't already know, most fruit of high quality that can withstand shipping goes straight to Japan. In Japan fruit play a much different role in the culture, and as such, prices differ drastically from what you would expect (and often do not reflect the quality of the product itself). Due to this gap in what people are willing to pay in Japan versus in Western North America, you can expect all the best fruit to end up there.

The same applies to pretty much any agricultural product. Coffee is the best in Japan though, and if you visit you should definitely try it.


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Re: Question on percieved decline of quality citris fruit
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2018, 10:04:12 PM »
As for commercially available varieties in supermarkets,  I do not perceive much difference than when I was a kid,  same goes with backyard grown,  in my home town, of Cocoa Beach, out house had a small grove, about 12 orange trees,  ( some kind of navel orange )  and 13 grapefruit,  1 tangerine.  and although people generally look at the past with rose colored classes,   i'd say many fruit I have tried recently are just as good as when I was a kid.

But just like mangoes,  you can have the same variety grown in 5 different locations, and get 5 different outcomes.   I know the citrus industry is seeing some hard times,  with all these new diseases and whacky weather.  been reading on how many citrus growers are about to throw in the towel,  and change crops. 

Today in my yard,  the only plant I have consistent problems growing is citrus,  every bug makes a bulls-eye for them.  scale,  fungus,  nutritional problems.   so I wonder maybe the changes in cultivation is some areas, have changed the quality of citrus.   my old trees from my childhood,  were never sprayed,  didn't even bother fertilizing them,  and they were healthy. 
" The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago.....The second best time, is now ! "


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Re: Question on percieved decline of quality citris fruit
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2018, 08:50:46 AM »
The best citrus in the 70's and before always came from Southern California, but yes, those trees are long gone.  After Orange County we lost San Bernardino, Riverside, and San Diego counties.  When California citrus growing moved to the Central Valley, there was a notable difference in quality.


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