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Keep your eyes peeled!

California farmers delight consumers with unique citrus varieties


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We all know what an orange looks like and what a mandarin looks like, but what if you combined them? Then you'd have something called the Sumo mandarin. It's a new, extra-large citrus fruit that has a distinctive top knot and weighs in at about 10 ounces each, making it the largest seedless mandarin in the U.S. and well-deserving of its moniker!

The fruit—called a dekopon in Japan, where it was developed in the 1970s—has made its way to California, thanks to the work of farmers like Mike George. He saw a need to combine the best of the easy-to-peel mandarin with the sweet, juicy taste of an orange, and thus the California Sumo was born.

Another piece of citrus that's getting attention in California's Central Valley is at Cecilia Packing, where they're attempting to grow an Old Line Washington Navel, or as it's otherwise known, an heirloom orange. Back in the 1930s, the Washington navel was actually the primary orange grown in California and it's what gave the Golden State its reputation for having the best-tasting citrus in the world. But it didn't produce as quickly as others, so it lost popularity. With the help of farmers like David Roth of Cecelia Packing, the adage of "what's old is new again" may just prove true.

The area of Orange Cove, where the heirloom fruit is grown, is known as the "citrus belt" because of the ideal soil and almost perfect climate of cool nights and warm days that allow the citrus to fully develop its sweetness. Once harvested, the oranges are trucked to the nearby packing shed to be washed, sorted and packed.

And from there, they're sent to grocery stores to be enjoyed by consumers who have their taste buds ready and their eyes peeled for what citrus farmers in California have next!

For more information about the Sumo mandarin, visit www.sumocitrus.com.

For more information about heirloom oranges, visit www.ceceliapack.com.


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