If you’re talking citrus in the United States, there’s one state that reigns supreme as the largest producer of citrus fruit in the country, by a very large margin. No, it’s not Florida, even though the Sunshine State is often associated with oranges and orange juice. Instead, it’s California.
In 2023, according to the USDA, California produced $2.2 billion worth of citrus or about 92% of the citrus grown in the United States for fresh market consumption. That’s way more than the second runner-up, Florida, which produced “only” $263 million worth of citrus.
Just as the gap between California and Florida is substantial, Florida likewise far, far surpasses the third-place producer, Texas, which generated $66 million worth of citrus last year. In fourth place, Arizona produced $31.9 million worth of citrus.
That’s a lot of citrus. However, citrus production in the United States is slowing, overall. According to the USDA, the 2022-2023 growing season showed the lowest combined production levels in half a century, at least.
So what are these states growing, more specifically? According to a citrus industry publication, California and Arizona saw large lemon crops this year, while Texas grew a large number of Valencia oranges and grapefruit. (The publication also points to Florida, despite its reputation as a citrus-growing state, as an example of declining growth, due to hurricanes and plant disease, among other factors.)
How to Use More U.S.-Grown Citrus This Winter
Whichever state you source your citrus from, there are four types of citrus that most citrus-growing states focus on: oranges (by and large), tangerines, lemons, and grapefruit (via the American Farm Bureau Federation).
Oranges are a no-brainer buy in the winter months. Not only do the health properties provide a significant boost to your immune system, but the sweet-tart flavor brings a bit of brightness to winter salads and other dishes during a bleak time of year. However, don’t just limit yourself to orange segments on your salad or your breakfast plate.
Try an impressive, flavorful dessert like an orange rosemary upside-down cake, for a treat that’s not overly sweet, but still just the thing to satiate your sweet tooth after a holiday season of overindulging on over-the-top desserts.
Stuck inside on a winter’s day? Try an orange-infused cooking project like making your own orange curd, candied orange peels, or Valencia vin d’orange, a boozy beverage that requires some patience and is best enjoyed as an aperitif.
Prefer grapefruit? The citrus adds brightness and color to an endive, kale, smoked salmon, and avocado salad.
Lemons can be enjoyed in much the same ways as your favorite orange varieties this winter season and, while they might not get as much attention for their health properties as oranges, they still have a lot to offer. Lemons provide more than half your recommended daily intake of vitamin C, soluble fiber, and properties that help prevent kidney stones and digestive issues (via Healthline).