Our vigilant grower tells us that this year “Florida had mostly typical Florida weather: a little drier in the spring with a wet summer, and then another moderate late summer/fall. No storms affected the citrus this year other than some increased moisture. Some of the best looking fruit we’ve seen in the last 4-5 years. Overall the best crop we’ve had in years.” The Indian River area of Florida where our grapefruit grows is famous for its usually clement weather. That’s why the fruit thrives! A steady spell of hot weather (both day and night) can cause the grapefruit to ripen too quickly. The longer it stays on the tree (within reason!), the sweeter it becomes, and the better will be the ratio of sugar to acid that gives grapefruit its unique sweet tartness.
The Ruby Red is of medium size with a smooth yellow rind tinged by areas of pink to red “blush.” Segments show the characteristic pink to reddish color, and there are very few seeds, you’ll find. All citrus originated in the “Old World,” except the grapefruit that originated in the late eighteenth century in the Caribbean. No one knows for sure, but it is probably a natural mutation of the pomelo and another citrus fruit. The grapefruit we enjoy today was developed in the West Indies in the early 1700s and first introduced to Florida in the 1820s. Most grapefruit is still grown in Florida. Botanists classify all citrus fruit as a Hesperidum, which is a type of berry. Grapefruit are very, very big berries.
Timing the harvesting can be iffy. Mother Nature doesn’t whisper, “It’s time” in the ear of the grower, nor does all the fruit ripen at the same time. Returning to the same tree is not as cost-effective as picking all the fruit the first time round. While some growers may be guilty of “once is enough” shortcuts (compromising quality), ours is not. I am sure our grapefruit leaseholders will appreciate their diligence when they receive their share of the Ruby Red grapefruit harvest.
Grapefruit got its name from the way it grows–in clusters (like grapes) on the tree. The trees are beautiful with their glossy green leaves, and the fruit offers lots of Vitamin C, potassium, and pectin (a soluble fiber effective in lowering cholesterol).
It takes a year for the Ruby Red grapefruit to mature. The late winter blossoms do not turn to fruit for 12 months. During that time, the grower has a lot of work to do in the grove–trimming, weeding, watering, fertilizing when necessary, controlling insect damage, fungus growth, and on and on. The investment in labor and TLC is great, indeed. All that work and investment can be lost due to a sudden hard freeze at the end of the season. While we are past the chance of the most dangerous weather conditions, we still have to arrange for picking the fruit. Itinerant workers do most of the work–many from Mexico, Jamaica, and other less developed countries–whose green cards permit them to pick red and yellow fruits. The labor supply was once abundant, but trumped up fears of those who cross our borders has changed all that.