Orange is a hybrid widespread throughout the world in cultivation, but originating in Asia, for hundreds of years now has developed as a species in its own right, it seems that the first oranges were brought to Europe by Portuguese mecants, for this reason in many dialects the word portogal, or portugal, indicates oranges.
The oranges are medium-sized trees, which can reach 5-8 meters high, with dense foliage, roundish, evergreen, the foliage of the orange is ovate or laceolate, dark green in color, shiny, slightly thick and consistent. In spring it produces small white flowers, called orange blossoms, intensely perfumed; there are numerous cultivars, which differ for the shape and size of the fruits, but also for the time of maturation: the oranges ripen from October to February, depending on the species.
The fruits of the orange are roundish, orange or reddish, with bitter skin, and juicy pulp, divided into segments. The oranges are cultivated all over the world as fruits to be consumed fresh or in jam, but are also used flowers and peel of the fruit in perfumery and phytotherapy. In general, the citrus sinensis is grafted onto other rutaceous species, such as bitter orange, C.
aurantium, or Poncirus trifoliata; in the latter case the plants originating from this graft are much more resistant to cold.
The sweet orange, citrus sinesis is actually a hybrid probably obtained from the cross between the grapefruit and the mandarin. It appeared about in 500 a. C.
È characterized by evergreen, shiny foliage. When rubbed with the fingertips, it releases a citrus essence due to the presence of oils in the leaf sheet.
The canopy has a rounded shape and, if left to grow, can reach up to 8 metres in height. Branches can be equipped with thorns. The flowers, which appear around March-April, are white or pink and give off a very intense and very pleasant scent.
From a botanical point of view, the fruits can be classified as berries. The flesh is enclosed in a more or less thick skin, also characterized by the presence of essential oil.
They are among the less resistant citrus fruits to the cold because they can not withstand temperatures below -7 ° C.
A plant obtained from seed reaches maturity around the age of eight, when it begins to bloom. To shorten these times, new seedlings are usually obtained by grafting.
These plants are medium to long-lived. They usually live to be about 40 years old. They can, however, in optimal conditions, exceed the century of life.
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The oranges are grown in a sunny, semi-shady place; they fear intense and prolonged frost, therefore in areas with very cold winters they are cooked in cold greenhouses or sheltered with agritourism or plastic sheets; even in areas with mild winters it is advisable to place the orange trees in a place sheltered from the wind, as late frost or very cold winds can irreparably ruin the buds or the young fruits.
A bit of history
Citrus fruits originate from the Himalayan appendages and the first to be cultivated were the Indians and Chinese. The first to name them was Confucius, in 500 BC. They were then brought to North Africa, Sicily and Spain by the Arabs during the VIII century. Orange, in particular, however, was introduced into Europe by the Portuguese from India. That is why these fruits are still called “Portuguese”.
He was much loved by Luigi XII who had the first Orangeraies and greenhouses built for the winter shelter. Since then, these fruits have become the symbol of luxury and elegance.
Orange today represents the first fruit production in the world. It is cultivated both for the production of juices and for fresh consumption. It is famous for its vitamin C content (although other vegetables, such as kiwi and pepper, are actually richer). This association, however, derives from its good shelf-life, when large quantities were packed on ships to defend against scurvy during long ocean crossings.
Watering and irrigation
The plants of the genus Citrus bear without any problems the drought, which, however, especially if prolonged, causes the loss of flowers and fruits; for an optimal fructification it is therefore good to water the plants regularly, from March to October, avoiding excesses, and waiting for the soil to dry between one watering and the other. During the vegetative period, let’s remember to supply some fertilizer for citrus fruits, every 10-15 days, mixed with the water of the watering.
Like all citrus fruits, irrigation must be abundant and is particularly important, especially during the summer. If the water supply is suspended, the plant could enter into vegetative rest, ceasing to bloom and thus compromising the winter harvest.
The first two years after planting, it is advisable to create a small depression around the trunk that is more or less the same size as the canopy. Usually it is the area where the roots are also present. Watering inside this basin will ensure that the water does not go elsewhere and instead reaches well the entire underground system.
Soil, multiplication and pests
Soil: we use a compound rich in humus, soft and very well drained.
Multiplication: usually by cutting, or by grafting on other rutaceae.
Pests and Diseases: Orange fears the attack of cochineal.
Orange particularly appreciates rich, deep, well aerated soils. The ideal are those with good percentages of sand. Soils that are too clayey and compact should be avoided. In this case, they should be made more suitable by mixing them with draining material and coarse and fine river sand.
If the soil, on the other hand, is too light and consequently also poor, it should be improved by mixing in organic soil improver and providing fertilisers rich in phosphorus and potassium.
In any case (for example if we have to put the plant in a pot) let us remember that the ideal composition is: 5-10% clay, 20% fine sand, 20% silt and 50% coarse sand.
However, there are bags of soil on the market that are specific to this type of crop.
It is very important to remember never to bury the grafting point. This could cause diseases such as gum disease.
Species and varieties
Noticing the differences between the various cultivars is very difficult because of the great ease of hybridization of citrus fruits. Currently about one hundred varieties are being cultivated on a large scale, but the types available could be more than 2000.
In general, three large groups of sweet oranges can be distinguished
– The little ships, with juicy and fragrant pulp. They are recognizable by the typical excrescence at the apex. It may happen that at the top there is a sort of other small fruit. The seeds are almost absent. The harvest runs from November to February on the European continent and in North Africa. Those found on the market in other periods come from Latin America or Florida.
– Blond oranges: are produced from December to July and used mainly for the production of centrifuge.
– Blood sausages: they have juicy and acidic flesh and a more or less reddish colour depending on the climate and the degree of ripeness.
Almost all of the world’s citrus production is located between the 40th parallel North and 40th parallel South. However, thanks to hybridization and acclimatization, orange has also spread to regions that are not strictly tropical. The important thing is that the winters are not too cold and summers tend to be very dry and hot.
In Italy they can be easily cultivated throughout the South. In the Centre and in the North they can be kept in the open land only in coastal areas or on lakes. Elsewhere they must be grown in pots so that they can be withdrawn into the greenhouse during the winter.
In areas with cold winters, it should be noted that the tree should never be exposed to temperatures below -7°C.
Planting and exposure
The best time to proceed is definitely spring. In this way the specimen will have the opportunity to recover and take root in the best possible way before the arrival of another cold season.
If we put the plant in the ground it will be good to prepare the hole already in autumn so that the area can air out and regain vitality.
We always choose a sunny location, both during the summer and during the coldest periods. Ideally, it should also be protected from winds and draughts, for example by a high wall or a hedge.
In the open ground, a nitrogen fertiliser must be administered three times a year: in March, June and autumn. To this you will have to add a good amount of phosphorus especially potassium to encourage flowering and then get large and tasty fruits.
The fertilizer should be distributed throughout the canopy area so that it can be absorbed especially by the youngest rootlets.
In pots, on the other hand, a specific granular or liquid fertilizer must be used once a month, from March to October. In spring, monthly, it is better to add to this a nitrogen supplement, which will be replaced by a phospho-potassium complex starting from June.
The repotting is to be done, preferably in March, when the roots have filled up the whole container, that is, when they are seen coming out from the drainage holes.
However, let’s avoid placing the plant in a much larger pot than the previous one. Citrus fruit tends to take up all the space available at the roots before it returns to bear fruit.
If we live in a very cold area, on the other hand, a large bread of earth could help us to protect the roots from frost.
Of paramount importance is the predisposition of an excellent drainage on the bottom composed of gravel, expanded clay or even glass marbles.
If it is inside a very large pot and therefore difficult to handle, we can avoid this practice and simply add soil from time to time to maintain the right level.
If grown in a container, the plants should be sheltered in a cold greenhouse with temperatures between -4 and 8°C. The environment must be bright. If the temperature does not drop below 13°C, the plant will not rest and therefore it will be necessary to continue to irrigate and fertilize it.
Pruning should be carried out at the end of the winter, but not before the third year after insertion of the plant. To set up the tree you have to choose three main branches of equal vigor eliminating the others. The secondary branches derived from these must be cymatized in order to make the foliage well dense. The aim is to increase the leaf area to protect the trunk and increase productivity.
It can be obtained by seed or grafting. The first method is little used, except for the production of rootstocks, because it will take a long time for the plant to bear fruit.
Grafting is the most commonly used technique. As an underground part is usually used citrus trifoliata (very resistant to cold) and some of the most common diseases.
Orange: Diseases and pests
Oranges are frequently affected by cochineal. You can fight with mineral oil with the addition of a systemic insecticide.
Other common parasites are aphids and mites, which must always be combated with specific products.
The phytophora fungus can cause the appearance of gum disease, characterized by the cracking of the bark and the appearance of a resin and the consequent fall of the leaves. Prevention is very important: the plants must always be placed in a well-drained substrate and the grafting point must be at least 25-30 cm from the ground.
Sadness is a virus transmitted by aphids. It manifests itself with discolouration on the leaf veins and wrinkled fruits. There is no cure and the plants must be destroyed. It is, however, a rare disease among amateur growers.
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- The sweet orange belongs to the Rutaceae family, to the genus Citrus and to the species sinensis. It is a modest tree.
visits : citrus sinensis
- Orange, citrus x sinensis, is a hybrid citrus fruit, most likely originating in China, very widespread in the cultivation of
visit : orange tree