Central Florida is known for its numerous citrus groves and there are several places where you can pick your own oranges. Keep in mind that the availability of pick-your-own options may vary depending on the season and the specific year.
How To Choose A Ripe Orange
When you are choosing which orange to pick from the tree, you will want to pay close attention to the color. Look for a bright orange or slightly yellow color that doesn’t have much green.
You can check for ripeness in oranges by squeezing them gently. An orange should be firm but not too squishy.
The different varieties of oranges will look different when they are ripe.
If you have any doubts, ask the staff at the orange groves for tips to pick the perfect orange. They are usually very helpful and knowledgeable.
The Best Way To Pick An Orange From A Tree
The best way to pick an orange off a tree is to pull or twist it gently. Expect some oranges to come off easier than others. If you prefer, ask the orange grove staff if they offer clippers to use, or bring along your own.
Don’t rip the peel on the orange when you are picking it, because the orange won’t stay fresh as long. Unlike some fruit or vegetables, an orange does not continue to ripen once it is picked. So pick just those oranges that are ripe.
How to Keep Oranges Fresh
If you leave your oranges unrefrigerated, they will stay fresh for about 4-5 days after they are picked. To make your oranges last longer, refrigerate them. They will last up to three weeks in your refrigerator once they are picked.
When To Pick Various Varieties Of Oranges
- Honeybell Oranges: Available in January only
- Navel Oranges: Available October-February
- Hamlin Oranges: Available October-January
- Pineapple Oranges: Available December-February
- Ambersweet Oranges: Available October-January
- Valencia Oranges: Available February-June
- Temple Oranges: Available January-March
- Flame Grapefruit: Available October-June
- March White Grapefruit: Available September-April
- Ruby Red Grapefruit: Available October-April
- Tangerines: Available from October-February
Tips For Picking Oranges In Central Florida
- Wear comfortable clothes, good for bending and moving
- Open-toe shoes aren’t the best to wear, as orchards are full of sticks, bugs and dirt.
- Bring water and wear sunscreen and a hat.
- If possible, go orange picking in the morning before the heat of the day. It may also be less busy.
- Don’t lean on the orange trees. The ants in orchards climb the trees and these ants bite.
- Most orange groves provide baskets and clippers, but it is also good to bring your own.
Where To Pick Oranges In Central Florida
Before visiting any of these places, it’s a good idea to check their websites or contact them directly to confirm their hours of operation and fruit availability.
Here are some popular places in Central Florida for picking your own oranges:
15051 Frank Jarrel Rd.
Clermont, FL. 34714
Showcase of Citrus is a popular citrus grove and wildlife park where visitors can pick their own citrus fruits, including oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, and more.
Located on a 2,500 acre estate, the citrus groves has acres of oranges, taneriens and grapefruit.
They offer guided monster truck tours through the groves as well. Active military and verterans ride free on the onster truck tour with military ID.
1701 Lake Mills Rd,
Chuluota, FL 32766
Lake Mills U-Pick offers locally grown fruits such as citrus fruits, navel oranges and tangerines from October through December. Between December and April, tangelos and grapefruit are available. Hours vary, so call ahead.
Two locations, just 10 minutes apart
#1 14803 Lake Yale Rd, Umatilla, FL
# 2 18813 Bent Tree Rd, Altoona, FL
In the spring, Graham has peaches and the fall sees the strawberry and veggies crops ready for picking. Oranges are available in December.
Owned and operated by the Graham family, this farm just outside of Orlando has been in operation for over 100 years.
6000 Polk City Road
Haines City, FL 33844
About an hour from Orlando, Ridge Island Groves has been family owned and operated since 1992. There is also a farm store with honey, juices and ice cream.
History of Orange Production in Florida
The orange industry in Florida is a significant and historic part of the state’s agricultural and economic landscape. Florida is renowned for its citrus production, particularly oranges, and it has been a major player in the citrus industry for over a century.
Citrus cultivation in Florida dates back to the early 16th century when Spanish explorers introduced citrus trees to the region. However, commercial citrus production began in the mid-19th century. By the late 1800s, Florida was already a prominent citrus producer.
Challenges Faced By Florida Citrus Growers
The Florida orange industry has faced various challenges over the years. This year’s Florida orange harvest could be the lowest in 90 years. Florida growers expect to produce 18 million boxes of oranges, when just 20 years ago they produced over 200 million.
A U.S. Department of Agriculture report shows troubling projections for Florida’s citrus forecast. Researchers have been working to combat a devastating disease called Huanglongbing, or citrus greening.
Spread by the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), this insect feeds on citrus. A tiny, mottled brown insect that is about the size of an aphid, the ACP transmits bacteria to a citrus tree when feeding on new shoots.
Another blow to Florida’s citrus production was Hurricane Ian which hit the state in September of 2022. Some farmers lost as much as 50% of their citrus, including grapefruit crops. The hurricane flooded farms and caused oranges to drop prematurely from trees.
This disease weakens the trees, reduces fruit production, and ultimately kills the trees if left unchecked. It has had a substantial impact on Florida’s citrus industry, leading to decreased production and increased production costs.
The Future Of Citrus Crops In Florida
To combat citrus greening and other challenges, extensive research and innovation have been undertaken in Florida. Scientists and agricultural experts have worked on developing disease-resistant citrus varieties and implementing best practices for managing groves.
In recent years, the Florida orange industry has been working diligently to overcome challenges like citrus greening while continuing to provide a significant contribution to the state’s economy and the broader citrus market.
Researchers and farmers continue to explore new techniques and solutions to ensure the long-term sustainability of the industry.