The combination of navel and Valencia-type oranges is a sometimes-overlooked but critically important one for year-round urban food production in Southern California and other mild-winter areas of California. Oranges produce abundantly in Southern California during winter and early-spring months when few other crop trees are productive. Planting multiple varieties of orange that mature at different times can allow the permaculturist or gardener with food-security concerns to harvest nearly year-round.
To do so, choose a navel type that ripens from winter to early spring, such as Washington, which is ideal for fresh eating because of its thick and easy-to-peel skin, and fruit sections that come apart easily; or the mild and sweet, red-fleshed Cara Cara. Valencia or Valencia types that ripen from spring through late summer or fall. Valencia oranges are commonly used for juicing. To pick oranges throughout the year, add additional early and late varieties of both navel and Valencia types. To extend your navel season into summer, GardenZeus recommends the late-ripening variety Lane Late. Robertson navel oranges ripen earlier than Washington and perform well in hot inland areas. Dwarf Robertson trees are known for being especially productive.
Valencia oranges hold well on trees, reportedly for up to 6 months, potentially keeping an orange supply fresh at hand without need for refrigeration or the requirement of harvesting all at once.
Maintaining smaller trees through dwarfing root stocks and regular pruning allows for production of more fruit per canopy area; dwarf trees can be up to four times more productive than standard trees per area of canopy.
Don’t know your GardenZeus zone? Click here.
Other articles of interest: