Removing leaves from your yard in autumn seems like a chore. But without trees, Florida would not be the same place today. It was the arrival of the first orange tree in the 1800s that gets credit for bringing people to the state. Although Orlando is far more developed now than it was then, trees are still important. City ordinances protect the city's largest, oldest, and most valuable trees, including any trees with a diameter over 30 inches.
Orange County, and State
The citrus industry, which has made its way from Asia, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean to the US, is as symbolic to Florida as Disney World, NASA, and alligators. The first citrus tree was introduced by Christopher Columbus in the mid-16th century. At this time, trade vessels brought people, animals, and many plants (both intentionally and accidentally) to the New World. Although Christopher Columbus is believed to be the first person to bring citrus fruits to Florida, another explorer (historians believe Ponce de Leon) was the first to actually plant citrus seeds in the ground. The fertile soils and warm climate of Florida proved to be just as conducive to growth as conditions in the citrus trees' native environments. With much land to spare at the time, citrus tree farms appeared virtually overnight. Commercial-scale citrus farms were commonplace by the mid-1800s. Naturally, the farms needed farmers. Farm owners turned to the state for assistance. The orange tree became a symbol printed on marketing materials urging people to move to the Sunshine State for good weather and great work opportunities. With its vast number of citrus trees, the area around Orlando was designated as "Orange County." It was officially established in 1845.
The Citrus Industry Today
The citrus industry is still a vital part of the state's economy. Today, citrus production amounts to about $9 billion annually. The industry employs over 75,000 Florida residents. Florida's citrus production is second in the world. Brazil takes the lead for citrus fruit exports and orange juice production. When it comes to grapefruit, however, Florida takes the lead. Florida single-handedly produces over 70 percent of the nation's citrus products. It also exports citrus to markets abroad including France, Japan, Canada, and the United Kingdom. In the growing season, fresh oranges and freshly-squeezed orange juice are easy to find in Florida. However, what's even more astonishing is that its whole oranges and orange juice, which you'll find in abundance during the summer, are just a portion of its production. Over 85 percent of the state's oranges are processed in some way. They are either chilled, canned, or converted to frozen concentrates. Government statistics say there are nearly 75 million citrus trees in the state. They cover almost 570,000 acres of land. Most citrus farms are located in the lower two-thirds of the Florida peninsula, which has the lowest risk of a freeze.
Types of Citrus Trees in Florida
Oranges are perhaps the most well-known of all Florida citrus trees. However, the state also produces grapefruit and specialty varieties such as tangerines, tangelos, and Temple oranges. The most common types of oranges in Florida today are the Navel, Ambersweet, Valencia, and Pineapple. The state's oranges grow in abundance between October and June.
There are also several types of grapefruit grown in Florida. These include Marsh, Duncan, Thompson, Flame, and Ruby Red. The juiciest and sweetest grapefruits are produced between September and April, which is the fruit's growing season.
In addition to grapefruit and oranges, you'll also find specialty fruits grown in and around Orlando. These include tangelos and tangerines, which are increasingly common in grocery stores across the country.
Even if you are not raising commercial citrus trees, knowing the local climate helps you determine when to start removing leaves from your yard. Generally, Orlando has a warm, humid, and mild climate. The risk of temperatures hitting the freezing mark is very low, even in the coldest months of January and February. The hottest months, on average, are July and August. During these months, the average daytime temperature is 92ºF. The average temperature in January, which is the coldest month, is 71ºF. Nighttime lows during that month average 50ºF. June and August historically get the most precipitation, while November and April are the driest months.
Florida's Native Trees
While citrus trees are arguably the shining stars of Florida's arboreal landscape, there are many other native species, too. Keep in mind that your larger trees (with a diameter of 30 inches or more) can qualify as historic trees.
This tree can grow to be 18 feet high and 15 feet wide. It produces beautiful pink and lavender blooms in March and early April. It is a deciduous tree, which means that it loses its leaves in the fall. Full sun and semi-moist soil help the species thrive.
Although it might take a long time for this tree to reach its full height of 60 feet tall, it's worth the wait. This Magnolia, which has evergreen leaves, produces beautiful white flowers in the spring. It prefers moist soil and does best in full sun to partial shade.
One of the most impressive species in Florida is the live oak. These oak trees can reach 80 feet in height and grow to be 120 feet wide. They can live to be hundreds of years, too. Live oaks grow in the wild, but they are also highly adaptable to urban environments. They produce acorns that provide sustenance for wildlife in the fall.
No matter what kind of trees you have in your yard, it's crucial to maintain them and your property. Leaf removal in Orlando is essential for aesthetic reasons and the health of your yard. If leaves cover the ground in fall, the grass does not have access to the air and sunlight it needs to grow. Come early spring, and you'll find a brown, dull, and possibly diseased lawn instead of a healthy and attractive one. But if you rake the lawn at least once annually during the fall, you'll see tremendous benefits. Contact Lawn Love to help with leaf removal.