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John McPhee

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Citrus seeds don't breed true - an orange pip may give you a grapefruit, and then seeds from that tree might give you a bitter lemon.

The taste of an orange varies by time of year, where it's grown and even where it is on the tree. Fruit you can reach from the ground is not as sweet as fruit growing higher on the tree. Outside fruit sweeter than inside fruit. In northern hemisphere the fruit on south side of tree is sweeter than east or west side, which are sweeter than on north side. The amount of juice, and the amount of Vit C also varies with same pattern.

Some fruits, like apples and pears, keep ripening after picking, bc they are still converting starches to sugars. Oranges have no starch, so they stop ripening as soon as they're picked. In US, it's illegal to sell an orange that is not ripe.

Trees take 15 years to grow from seedlings, and they are covered in thorns. Budded trees bear fruit after 5 years and are virtually free of thorns.

Trees that are almost valueless for their fruit are valued for their rootstock. Most citrus fruits grafed onto lemon stock. You can turn a single citrus tree into a carnival, with lemons, limes, grapefruit, tangerines, kumquats and oranges all ripening on its branches at the same time.

In Florida, root stock usually Rough Lemons, whose fruit is oversized, ninety percent rind, and almost inedible. Growers put a few hundred of these lemons through a meat grinder to produce a mash of pulp. peel and seeds. These go into a ternch 8b inches wide and an inch deep, which produces seedlings. Take 18 months to grow to a foot and a half.

Then take a bud from a twig of an orange/grapefruit/tangerine/whatever, amke two cuts in the rootstock tree and tuck the bud inside. Wrap plastic tape around. In 2 weeks a new shoot emerges from bud. Two months after that, the upper trunk and braches of rootstock cut offleaving just a 3 inch stub coming out of the ground.

When a freeze comes through, it's a fortunate disaster. Halves the crop, but triples the price, and saves on taxes, labour and gasoline.

Crusaders reported that orange trees grew throughout Palestine, so medieval painters included them in their Jesus-era depictions. (You won't see a Last Supper without oranges) But citrus fruits were a late arrival in Palestine, and Jesus would never have seen one.

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