This season’s citrus, in no particular hurry
Year after year we measure fruit sugar content (Brix degrees) and acidity of our citrus in various plots as of mid-October, allowing us to estimate when the fruit will be ripe and tasty enough to kick off the harvest season. Usually mid-November our oranges and clementines start to turn orange and taste sweeter by the day. Both the trees in our groves and the fruit they bear look particularly healthy, well-nourished and promising this year, however the ripening process seems to be taking its time.
Although demand is particularly high now that it’s starting to get cold in Northern Europe and most of our clients are calling us on a daily basis to ask when the first citrus will be available, it would be everything except wise to start harvesting before the fruit’s completely ripe.
Let’s have a closer look at the clementines. The attached pictures were taken on Wednesday this week. Over 80% of the clementines* are still completely green and clearly subpar as far as taste is concerned. The second issue is that after last year’s bumper crop, this season’s harvest will be fairly meager. Citrus trees tend to bear less fruit the year after a particularly abundant harvest. Picking the few clementines we’ve got before they’re ripe would literally be a crime.
The good news is that it’s simply a question of time. This morning temperatures dropped below 5°C for the first time this winter. Cold temperatures are what it takes for green oranges to turn orange. And since the Valencian sun keeps shining throughout the winter, fruit sugar content will rise constantly right until the end of the citrus harvesting season in March.
*not only our clementines, all Clemenules in the traditional growing district of Valencia look like this right now. What many exporters do is they “degree” them in cold chambers. That gives them their beautiful color, however it has absolutely no effect on the mediocre taste of fruit harvested before it’s ripe