Oranges and writers

May 5, 2010
By Anonymous

To give a reader the feeling of being in Florida, there are many different aspects of Florida culture that could be described. In some stories, writers have used orange agriculture to help give the reader the feeling of being in Florida. Oranges have been around Florida since the 1500s and are nearly synonymous with Florida culture.
The feeling of being in Florida was created in A Land Remembered when the MacIvey family decided to begin growing oranges. The work of raising cattle was getting too difficult for Tobias MacIvey as he grew older. Oranges seemed to be an easy way to make some additional money. Being new to growing oranges, their efforts were not successful at first. Cattle were allowed to graze in the orange fields so their manure would fertilize the trees. Unfortunately, the cattle had a taste for orange leaves and would eat the lower branches.
The obvious answer was taller trees. Since the MacIvey’s had plenty of money, the cost of this initial mistake was no problem. The larger trees thrived. They would haul their crop to Fort Meyers and sell the oranges to the same gentleman that bought their cattle. Oranges were a very successful cash crop for the MacIveys until the first killing freeze during the winter of 1894-1895. That year the entire crop was lost and the family was concerned that the trees would die too. By the end of January, however, the weather had warmed and the trees began to bloom, to the great relief of the MacIvey family. Eventually, their entire land was covered with oranges.
Oranges came to America from Southeast Asia (Tantillo). The California orange business first started with a man named William Wilfskill. He planted the first orange in Los Angeles in 1841 (Tantillo). Almost everyone in town laughed at him because they thought it was crazy (Tantillo). William Wilfskill sold oranges to gold rush miners and with the completion of the transcontinental railroad, shipped them to St. Louis in 1877 (Tantillo). Because of what William Wilfskill did many pioneer families switched to shipping gift fruit (Tantillo).
The first commercial orange grower in Florida started 13 years earlier than California when Douglas Dummitt sold his first crop in 1828 (Gouger). By 1859 he was selling 60,000 oranges per year. Oranges first came to Florida in the 1500’s when Ponce deLeon planted the first tree (Gouger). The orange tree thrived and by the late 1700’s the tree was seen growing along riverbanks by the explorer William Bartram (Gouger).
When orange growing started in Florida only people that lived near the groves could buy the oranges (Helen). Soon, barges and steamboats were used to transport the oranges out of Florida an up the Atlantic coast. Because of the long trip, oranges were considered a luxury in New York. With the expansion of the railroad into Florida, oranges could be transported to New York in only a few days. Soon, the entire country was able to enjoy our delicious citrus fruit.
Oranges thrive in semitropical regions such as Florida and subtropical regions such as California and the Mediterranean (Tantillo). The most common orange that is grown in Florida is a blood orange (Tantillo). It is called a blood orange because of the red juices that the oranges make. The blood orange is a hybrid between pomelo and the tangerine (Tantillo). Since there are not many machines that can pick oranges efficiently about 96% of all oranges are harvest by hand (McPhee). Oranges are normally picked from trees that are at least three years old, and the older the tree is the bigger the crop (Helen). The best fruit comes from trees over ten years old (Helen). About 80% of all the oranges that is produced in Florida are turned into orange juice.
Brazil is the world leader in orange and total citrus production followed by the U.S. with Florida second by itself in orange production to Brazil (Tantillo). Florida produces about 75% of the U.S. oranges and accounts for about 40% of the world’s orange juice (Tantillo). Texas and Arizona are the only other U.S. orange-producing states of note, besides California (Tantillo). Florida produces about three times the amount of oranges than California does (Tantillo).
The history of orange agriculture in Florida is measured in freezes. The freeze of February 1835 was probably one of the worst freezes in Florida’s history. Oranges freeze at a temperature of 28 degrees Fahrenheit. The way that orange growers protect their tree is by spraying water over the oranges. Because water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the frozen water keeps the orange from freezing as long as they continue to be sprayed with water. Even though this method doesn’t always work it is still used to this day. Whenever a horrific freeze goes through Florida and kills most of the oranges, the price always increases, and may triple. This price will stay high for the next three or four years until more oranges are mature enough to produce a large supply of oranges (McPhee).
These freezes make for great drama in a novel. Every story always has a conflict. The Florida freezes are a classic man vs. nature conflict. This conflict is discussed by Marjorie Kinnan Rawling during one especially cold winter. She hired extra workers to pick fruit throughout the night to beat a freeze that was coming. Not all the fruit could be picked, so she set pine torches burning throughout the grove to keep the air a few degrees warmer. Sometimes she would succeed and save the fruit. Other years it was just too cold and the fruit was lost. The drama of this conflict is unique to Florida.
The orange agriculture industry has always been associated with Florida. From an early age we learn that orange juice comes from Florida. We hear every winter about freezing weather possibly hurting the orange industry in Florida. This is why writers can easily create a feel of being in Florida by providing detailed descriptions of event related to orange agriculture. Oranges will always be in Florida’s culture.

Works Cited
Gouger, Amy. "History of Florida Orange Trees |" EHow | How To Do Just About Everything! | How To Videos & Articles. 18 Sept. 2009. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <>.
Hill, Helen. "Florida Citrus - Absolutely Florida!" Absolutely Florida Guide to Travel in the Sunshine State. 21 Mar. 2010. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <>.
McPhee, John. Oranges. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000. Print.
Rawlings, Marjorie Kinnan. Cross Creek. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996. Print.
Smith, Patrick D. A Land Remembered. Sarasota, Fla.: Pineapple, 2009. Print.
Tantillo, Tony. "Oranges." Tony Tantillo - Farm Fresh. 24 Feb. 2000. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <>.
Townsend, Chet. "The Story of Florida Orange Juice - From the Grove to Your Glass." - The Ultimate Citrus Page. 24 Apr. 2006. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <>.

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