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orange

The orange is the fruit of the citrus species Citrus × sinensis in the family Rutaceae, native to China. It is also called sweet orange, to distinguish it from the related Citrus × aurantium, referred to as bitter orange. The sweet orange reproduces asexually (apomixis through nucellar embryony); varieties of sweet orange arise through mutations.

The orange is a hybrid between pomelo (Citrus maxima) and mandarin (Citrus reticulata). The chloroplast genome, and therefore the maternal line, is that of pomelo. The sweet orange has had its full genome sequenced.

The orange originated in Ancient China and the earliest mention of the sweet orange was in Chinese literature in 314 BC. As of 1987, orange trees were found to be the most cultivated fruit tree in the world. Orange trees are widely grown in tropical and subtropical climates for their sweet fruit. The fruit of the orange tree can be eaten fresh, or processed for its juice or fragrant peel. As of 2012, sweet oranges accounted for approximately 70% of citrus production.

In 2017, 73 million tonnes of oranges were grown worldwide, with Brazil producing 24% of the world total, followed by China and India.

Botanical information and terminology

All citrus trees belong to the single genus Citrus and remain almost entirely interfertile. This includes grapefruits, lemons, limes, oranges, and various other types and hybrids. As the interfertility of oranges and other citrus has produced numerous hybrids and cultivars, and bud mutations have also been selected, citrus taxonomy is fairly controversial, confusing or inconsistent. The fruit of any citrus tree is considered a hesperidium, a kind of modified berry; it is covered by a rind originated by a rugged thickening of the ovary wall.

Different names have been given to the many varieties of the species. Orange applies primarily to the sweet orange – Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck. The orange tree is an evergreen, flowering tree, with an average height of 9 to 10 m (30 to 33 ft), although some very old specimens can reach 15 m (49 ft). Its oval leaves, alternately arranged, are 4 to 10 cm (1.6 to 3.9 in) long and have crenulate margins. Sweet oranges grow in a range of different sizes, and shapes varying from spherical to oblong. Inside and attached to the rind is a porous white tissue, the white, bitter mesocarp or albedo (pith). The orange contains a number of distinct carpels (segments) inside, typically about ten, each delimited by a membrane, and containing many juice-filled vesicles and usually a few seeds (pips). When unripe, the fruit is green. The grainy irregular rind of the ripe fruit can range from bright orange to yellow-orange, but frequently retains green patches or, under warm climate conditions, remains entirely green. Like all other citrus fruits, the sweet orange is non-climacteric. The Citrus sinensis group is subdivided into four classes with distinct characteristics: common oranges, blood or pigmented oranges, navel oranges, and acidless oranges.

Other citrus groups also known as oranges are:

  • Mandarin orange(Citrus reticulata) is an original species of citrus, and is a progenitor of the common orange.
  • Bitter orange(Citrus aurantium), also known as Seville orange, sour orange (especially when used as rootstock for a sweet orange tree), bigarade orange and marmalade orange. Like the sweet orange, it is a pomelo x mandarin hybrid, but arose from a distinct hybridization event.
  • Bergamot orange(Citrus bergamia Risso), grown mainly in Italy for its peel, producing a primary essence for perfumes, also used to flavor Earl Grey It is a hybrid of bitter orange x lemon.
  • Trifoliate orange(Poncirus trifoliata), sometimes included in the genus (classified as Citrus trifoliata). It often serves as a rootstock for sweet orange trees and other Citrus cultivars.

An enormous number of cultivars have, like the sweet orange, a mix of pomelo and mandarin ancestry. Some cultivars are mandarin-pomelo hybrids, bred from the same parents as the sweet orange (e.g. the tangor and ponkan tangerine). Other cultivars are sweet orange x mandarin hybrids (e.g. clementines). Mandarin traits generally include being smaller and oblate, easier to peel, and less acidic. Pomelo traits include a thick white albedo (rind pith, mesocarp) that is more closely attached to the segments.

Orange trees generally are grafted. The bottom of the tree, including the roots and trunk, is called rootstock, while the fruit-bearing top has two different names: budwood (when referring to the process of grafting) and scion (when mentioning the variety of orange).

 

Blood oranges

Blood oranges are a natural mutation of C. sinensis, although today the majority of them are hybrids. High concentrations of anthocyanin give the rind, flesh, and juice of the fruit their characteristic dark red color. Blood oranges were first discovered and cultivated in Sicily in the fifteenth century. Since then they have spread worldwide, but are grown especially in Spain and Italy under the names of sanguina and sanguinella, respectively.

The blood orange, with its distinct color and flavor, is generally considered favorably as a juice, and has found a niche as an ingredient variation in traditional Seville marmalade.

Other varieties of blood oranges

  • Maltese: a small and highly colored variety, generally thought to have originated in Italy as a mutation and cultivated there for centuries. It also is grown extensively in southern Spain and Malta. It is used in sorbets and other desserts due to its rich burgundy color.
  • Moro: originally from Sicily, it is common throughout Italy. This medium-sized fruit has a relatively long harvest, which lasts from December to April.
  • Sanguinelli: a mutant of the Doble Fina, discovered in 1929 in Almenara, in the Castellón provinceof Spain. It is cultivated in Sicily.
  • Scarlet navel: a variety with the same mutation as the navel orange.
  • Tarocco: a relatively new variety developed in Italy. It begins to ripen in late January.

Acidless oranges

Acidless oranges are an early-season fruit with very low levels of acid. They also are called “sweet” oranges in the United States, with similar names in other countries: douce in France, sucrena in Spain, dolce or maltese in Italy, meski in North Africa and the Near East (where they are especially popular), şeker portakal (“sugar orange“) in Turkey, succari in Egypt, and lima in Brazil.

The lack of acid, which protects orange juice against spoilage in other groups, renders them generally unfit for processing as juice, so they are primarily eaten. They remain profitable in areas of local consumption, but rapid spoilage renders them unsuitable for export to major population centres of Europe, Asia, or the United States.

Hybrids

Sweet oranges have also given rise to a range of hybrids, notably the grapefruit, which arose from a sweet orange x pomelo backcross. A spontaneous backcross of the grapefruit and sweet orange then resulted in the orangelo. Spontaneous and engineered backcrosses between the sweet orange and mandarin oranges or tangerines has produced a group collectively known as tangors, which includes the clementine and Murcott. More complex crosses have also been produced. The so-called Ambersweet orange is actually a complex sweet orange x (Orlando tangelo x clementine) hybrid, legally designated a sweet orange in the United States so it can be used in orange juices. The citranges are a group of intergeneric sweet orange x trifoliate orange hybrids.

Cultivation

Climate

Like most citrus plants, oranges do well under moderate temperatures—between 15.5 and 29 °C (59.9 and 84.2 °F)—and require considerable amounts of sunshine and water. It has been suggested the use of water resources by the citrus industry in the Middle East is a contributing factor to the desiccation of the region. Another significant element in the full development of the fruit is the temperature variation between summer and winter and, between day and night. In cooler climates, oranges can be grown indoors.

As oranges are sensitive to frost, there are different methods to prevent frost damage to crops and trees when subfreezing temperatures are expected. A common process is to spray the trees with water so as to cover them with a thin layer of ice that will stay just at the freezing point, insulating them even if air temperatures drop far lower. This is because water continues to lose heat as long as the environment is colder than it is, and so the water turning to ice in the environment cannot damage the trees. This practice, however, offers protection only for a very short time. Another procedure is burning fuel oil in smudge pots put between the trees. These devices burn with a great deal of particulate emission, so condensation of water vapour on the particulate soot prevents condensation on plants and raises the air temperature very slightly. Smudge pots were developed for the first time after a disastrous freeze in Southern California in January 1913 destroyed a whole crop.

Harvest

Canopy-shaking mechanical harvesters are being used increasingly in Florida to harvest oranges. Current canopy shaker machines use a series of six-to-seven-foot-long tines to shake the tree canopy at a relatively constant stroke and frequency.

Normally, oranges are picked once they are pale orange.

Production

In 2017, Brazil was the world’s leading orange producer, with an output of 17.5 million tonnes, followed by China, India, and the United States as the four major producers. As almost 99% of the fruit is processed for export, 53% of total global frozen concentrated orange juice production comes from this area and the western part of the state of Minas Gerais. In Brazil, the four predominant orange varieties used for obtaining juice are Hamlin, Pera Rio, Natal, and Valencia.

In the United States, groves are located mainly in Florida, California, and Texas. The majority of California’s crop is sold as fresh fruit, whereas Florida’s oranges are destined to juice products. The Indian River area of Florida is known for the high quality of its juice, which often is sold fresh in the United States and frequently blended with juice produced in other regions because Indian River trees yield very sweet oranges, but in relatively small quantities.

Production of orange juice between the São Paulo and mid-south Florida areas makes up roughly 85% of the world market. Brazil exports 99% of its production, while 90% of Florida’s production is consumed in the United States.

Orange juice is traded internationally in the form of frozen, concentrated orange juice to reduce the volume used so that storage and transportation costs are lower.

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