Christopher Columbus not only discovered the New World, he brought it citrus. Then, in the 16th century, an early Spanish explorer, possibly Ponce de Leon, introduced orange trees to Florida. Ever since, America has loved citrus, from oranges to tangelos to lemons. Today, four states are the main producers of citrus fruit in the United States.
Florida's warm climate and sandy soil are ideal for growing citrus, which has been a commercial crop in the state since the mid-1800s. Almost 569,000 acres of citrus groves and 74 million citrus trees can be found in Florida. More than 70 percent of the United States' citrus comes from the Sunshine State. According to Floridajuice.com, Florida is the world's leading producer of grapefruit. Growers in the state produce oranges, tangelos, tangerines and grapefruits.
California is second only to Florida in citrus production. California citrus was "king" in the early 1900s, when ranchers touted the state's lush groves. The state's total citrus production averaged 3.2 million tons from 2003 to 2006. More than 65 percent of that was oranges (navel and Valencia), followed by lemons, grapefruits and tangerines/clementines. California produces 24 percent of the oranges in the United States, most of which are navel oranges.
Some areas of Arizona are frost-free and have adequate water supplies, making them suitable for growing citrus. Most of the state's production is limited to Yuma, Pinal, Maricopa and Mohave counties. The state produces lemons, oranges, grapefruit and tangerine/tangelos. Its biggest crop is lemons, which are 18 percent of the total U.S. production.
Citrus has been shipped commercially in the Lone Star State since 1920, according to texasweet.com. The first plantings were white and pink grapefruit, but red grapefruits were accidentally discovered in 1929. Today, more than 28,000 acres of citrus are grown in the Rio Grande Valley, and the state produces about seven percent of the nation's grapefruit. Texas also produces oranges.
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