Saturday, October 31, 2009

Bumper Crop

Following some severe and prescient trimming by Nikki a year or so ago (I don't have her stomach for plant brutality except when it comes to our wisteria, which won't bloom no matter how much I abuse it), our citrus tree produced a bumper crop of fruit this year. (Last year we got about three satsumas. The year before we only got one.) The fruit set, small and green, many month ago and only recently starting turning lighter green, then orange. I was reluctant to start cutting them down because I wanted them to become as sweet as possible but they recently started dropping (with the tops of the fruit pulling right off and the fruit dropping to the ground "open") so in the past couple of days I started to harvest the fruit.I didn't quite realize how much fruit was on the tree until I started clipping them off. Over the course of a half hour or forty five minutes, I filled more than two shopping bags (taking the fruit that had either turned orange or which felt like there was some "room" between the rind and the meat) and there was still a ton of fruit still on the tree. (The above photos were taken after today's harvest.)One thing that is remarkable about the tree is how it supported the weight of so much fruit without snapping its limbs. In the above photo, I am holding two bags of fruit, each bag weighing almost twenty pounds. They were pretty heavy, even for a strapping young man like me. The tree's thin branches hold five times that and while they have bent over, some nearly touching the ground, none have broken even if the recent heavy winds. The only exception was a branch snapped by our carpenter during the recent installation of our shutters and even that branch stayed attached to the tree and produced fruit that ripened slightly sooner but were delicious none the less. (These provided some of the juice for my recent cocktail experiments.)While I take great pleasure eating food grown on my own land (a fairly grandiose way to conceive of my Irish Channel driveway), these fruit would be a delicious treat that I would enjoy even if they were shipped in from South America and I had to pay big bucks for them at Whole Foods.

The fruit is sweet and firm, with few seeds, and is so juicy that they burst when you peel them.

Apparently I am not the first New Yorker to get swept up in the excitement of Louisiana citrus. I found this 1899 article about the prospects for citrus production here ("The people of New Orleans - right here in this city - do not know wht they have, but the Eastern people are beginning to learn what this country is."):In any event, as must be clear, I am a neophyte to citrus trees and farming. I was wondering whether anyone might know with some precision what variety of citrus my tree is. I call them satsumas because they are greenish and because that seems to be the predominant local citrus. But these are much more orange than most satsumas I see. Any citrus experts out there?


  1. i am no expert, but take them to george! he will tell you what they are. he doesn't know we moved, so you will be the heartbreaker if you go.


  2. Ship me some and I'll ship you apples, I promise!!