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( PaulRowe )

Comments made by PaulRowe

Follow Up: Where Your Oranges Are From

As the owner of an Orange Grove in North County, I was interested in this article.
In recent years, oranges grown here have had such a low value that pickers fail to show up and the oranges just fall to the ground and rot. I have several photos of our Naval Orange Grove taken in March of 2006 showing a carpet of oranges on the ground. Those oranges were good sizes and good quality, but the market was apparently down that year because of an abundance of crop so nobody would pick them.

So it is infuriating to see oranges from Australia in the local Alberstons and oranges from Chile at Costco selling at high prices. I bought a few of the Australian Navels just to see how they compared and they were not up to California taste. of course Australia can offer Navels in our Summer, while ours are harvested in early Spring. I wonder, do they buy our Navels when the Seasons are reversed?

A friend of mine also has an orange grove and invited me over to watch a machine come in that can rip out the trees and grind them up. His water allocation had been cut 30% so he decided to rip out 30% of his grove. I have some pictures of those if you would like to see one.

The growers have been put in a position where they have no leverage or control over the selling price. The large packing houses only tell you what they'll pay after they pick the crop. There are very few of them that even want oranges from San Diego county anymore as I understand it. The small packers sometimes fail to follow through on what they promise and don't even answer their phone if they don't want to pick the crop.

I would love to hear from other growers in San Diego County and possibly learn whether or not some of them have better stories to tell.

I'm switching to organic and hope that may be an answer.

It does seem a terrible waste to let good fruit fall the ground when there is much hunger in the world and why use fuel to ship oranges from Australia to California when we had plenty of good Valencias here this year?

October 22, 2009 at 6:04 p.m. ( | suggest removal )