See How Your Citrus Gets Harvested

FRESNO, Calif. -- Citrus is a common fruit in American households, but not everyone knows how much work is required to get it there.

"It's a ton of work, it takes a lot to bring it to fruition," said Ryan Jacobsen with the Fresno County Farm Bureau. California is the top citrus state in the nation, with about 75% of the production coming from the San Joaquin Valley.


"You know, most people associate Florida with citrus, and Florida does have citrus, but that's predominantly used for the juicing kind, the type that ends up in your orange juice. Here in California, we're producing the fresh market citrus that's ending up in your hands that you're actually peeling yourself," Jacobsen said.

Citrus (which includes oranges, mandarins, grapefruit, lemons, limes and others) is a picky fruit to grow. It benefits when temperatures get near freezing (think 32 or 33 degrees) as that can help to bring on the sugar and sweetness. However, if those temperatures drop below freezing, farmers have to get to work.

Farmers run large fans in the overnight hours to stir up warmer air that's above the trees. They'll also run water through the orchards because the water is warmer than the air outside.

When it freezes, citrus farmers often stay up all night to watch the temperatures and apply these tactics at the right time.

"I don't think the average person realizes how much goes into delivering that fruit that you're just accustomed to seeing in the produce aisle," said Ben Allen with Fowler Packing Company. The company grows and harvests mandarins, and once they're harvested, they pack them and ship them off to stores.


"We're harvesting anywhere from 1,500 to 3,500 bins, each bin is roughly 1,000 pounds," Allen said. "Over a quarter-million bags we're shipping out of the facility."

The facility features some of the highest technology available in the industry, including a camera system that takes up to 500 pictures of each piece of fruit to ensure quality.

"Everybody cares. We just take a lot of pride in what we do. And I think there's a big focus on quality and the people," Allen said.

"And it's just-- it's really neat to go to work every day and really enjoy what you do and be proud of what you do."