California Navel crop excellent

As you can imagine, Google sends a lot of folks to my e-mail. I appreciate hearing from people, and I do my best to respond.

Of course, the environmental wackos I hear from are great fodder for commentaries.

I received an unusual e-mail in late March that prompts this column. It was from a consumer in Southern California. It read:

I want to know who I can contact to express my appreciation for the fabulous California Navel oranges that I have been enjoying for the past two to three weeks. This 65-year old man has eaten a lot of oranges in his life, and I have NEVER eaten any orange that even comes close to the excellence of this year’s navels with a 4012 number tag on them.

Can you refer me to some industry big wig?

Many thanks,

Dan McGarigle

El Segundo, Calif.

I referred Dan to California Citrus Mutual and Sunkist.

I am not a big citrus eater. I enjoy a good Navel once in awhile. Easy peel sweet tangerines or Clementines are other favorites.

However, nothing beats a sweet Navel. I have a small Navel in my yard. It produces about a dozen large oranges each year. Some are good. Others not so tasty. I don’t blame the bad ones on the tree. It’s the “farmer.” I do not take care of the Navel tree as I should.

The lady from whom we bought the house planted the Navel many years ago under a large redwood, “hidden” from her husband. He did not want an orange tree in the yard.

We lifted the lower branches on the adjacent redwoods to give the Navel additional sunlight, and it has done well over the past decade.

However, my Navels are a far cry from the great citrus I have eaten over the winter and this spring.

My wife brings home one or two Navels a week during the winter. She is a picky produce shopper; therefore, when I see an orange on the kitchen counter, I know it has been carefully scrutinized.

This winter the oranges disappeared quickly with a request for more.

She started buying the big, red netting bulk bags of Navels. Bulk fruit is supposed to be the lower grade, blemished or maybe undersized or oversized fruit.

There has been nothing wrong with the bagged Navels she has bought for weeks. I have yet to find a bad orange. A couple have been soft, but inside the fruit was so sweet.

I peel oranges and pull them apart to eat. When the rind is thin and a pain to peel, it’s a dead giveaway that the fruit will not be that tasty.

Not this year’s California crop. Rinds were very thick. That may be why they were sold bulk. But they peeled great and ate even better.

I have been liberal at times with my criticism of poor quality fruit palmed off on consumers. I figure it is time to fill a basket with kudos for some great California citrus.

California citrus growers, like all famers, work hard to deliver the best possible product to consumers.

With citrus, it can be tough. Mother Nature can mess up the best of growing efforts.

This season producers did an incredible job of delivering to consumers California Navel oranges worth a big attaboy.

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