The cultivation of citrus fruits has been a preferred economic activity in some parts of the world because it is not labor intensive. Citrus thrives in any season, especially during spring. The citrus fruits require sun during the ripening stage. The fruits take between 6-8 months to ripen after fertilization. Citrus fruits include grapefruit, lemon and lime, oranges, and tangerine among other fruits. The production of citrus fruit is common in the Northern Hemisphere, particularly in countries around the Mediterranean. There are about 140 major citrus producing countries according to the UNCTAD. In 2011, FAO estimated the world’s citrus production to about 115.6 million tons.
Top Citrus Producers
Brazil is the top producer of citrus fruits in the world with an annual production of about 20 million tons. It is also the top exporter of orange juice in the world. Orange was first introduced in Brazil by the Portuguese in 1530. Citrus farmers in Brazil have been abandoning the citrus industry for the sugarcane industry. Expensive labor, chemicals, low prices for citric products in the Brazilian market, pests, and diseases are some of the reasons why Brazilian farmers are abandoning citrus production.
China records an annual citrus production of about 19.6 tons. The top provinces in citrus production in China are Jiangxi, Guangxi, Hunan, and Chongqing. Citrus fruits produced in China are either consumed locally or exported to another country. The main market for Chinese citrus fruits and citric products are countries in Southeast Asia. The production of citrus in China has been drastically reducing due to the citrus greening and poor weather conditions.
The third largest producer of citrus is the United States with an annual production of over 10 million tons. The most consumed fruits by the Americans are oranges. Most oranges and other citrus fruits are grown in Florida, Arizona, and Texas. The majority of the citrus fruits produced in the US go to the processing of juice, especially orange juice. Although the juice is consumed locally, most of it is exported in frozen form. In production of orange juice, the USA comes second after Brazil, with 71% of its oranges going to juice production
Mexico produces over 6.8 million tons of citrus annually. The production of oranges has been drastically reducing in Mexico due to citrus greening whereas production of grapes, lemons, and limes has been on the increase because of the high demand. In fact, Mexico is the leading producer and exporter of lemon and lime. Lime is grown in the warm Southwest areas of Jalisco, Colima, and Guerrero.
Benefits of Citrus Fruits
Eating citrus fruits like oranges, limes, lemons, and grapes are beneficial to the human body. Citrus fruits are a good source of fiber, necessary for adding bulk to food during digestion and preventing constipation. Citrus fruits contain antioxidants necessary for reduction of chances of contracting cardiovascular diseases. Citrus fruits and citric products like juices are a rich source of immune-boosting vitamin C. Vitamin C is good for the elasticity of your skin and reducing the severity of cold. Citrus fruits are rich in other minerals like calcium which is necessary for strong bones and potassium which is good for the functioning of the nervous system.