IRC Citrus: A World of Unmatched Flavor
My name is George Hamner Jr. I'm president of Indian River exchange Packers Inc. We're a citrus growers shipper organization in the business of citrus. We're vertically integrated; we not only grow citrus, we also take crops other people grow and then convert them to cash. That means we harvest the fruit, pack it, and sell it to the supermarkets or people around the world.
First of all, from a regional standpoint, the biggest business in Florida is the growing of oranges for processing Florida juice. However, the Indian River area, with its calcific soils, humidity, and high water table, which stresses the trees slightly, creates a higher sugar Brix ratio that makes the flavor of fruit in general better. But grapefruit from the Indian River became unique years and years ago because we couldn't grow the boxes per acre for the production on our land that we could grow in the interior. So there was less fruit per acre available. The grapefruit itself grew very well. So the area really began and specialized more to a grapefruit than it did toward oranges.
The Indian River area is unique in the fact that we have high sugar with a higher acid that kind of gives it that twang. And that's proven by studies from Texas, California, South Africa, Mexico, Turkey, wherever you want to get grapefruit, Israel, around the world. The Indian River part of Florida has got the best grapefruit truly in the world, scientifically as well as psychologically. The fact that Indian River fruit was special meant that it's ingrained in our blood. I mean, we bleed red grapefruit or white grapefruit or pink grapefruit. We always have. And even though for years 50% of our crops were oranges and only 50% was grapefruit, every one of the people in the fresh fruit business kind of walk, talk, and breathe grapefruit because that's what the region is known for and that's where we specialized in sales.
So it's deeply ingrained in our industry over here.
Watch Why Indian River Citrus is the Best in the World!
The Indian River area , with its calcific soils, high humidity, and distinctive high water table, creates the perfect conditions for citrus trees to flourish, resulting in a higher sugar Brix ratio that elevates the flavor of the fruit to exceptional heights. In this video, George explains how the region's grapefruit, in particular, earned its reputation as the best in the world. The decision to focus on grapefruit cultivation was a strategic one, as the land in the Indian River couldn't yield the same volume per acre as the interior, leading to fewer fruits available. However, the grapefruit thrived magnificently, and the area began to specialize in this beloved citrus variety.
The distinctiveness of Indian River citrus lies in its unique combination of high sugar levels and elevated acidity, resulting in a delightful tangy flavor that has garnered acclaim worldwide. Scientific studies from various grapefruit-producing regions, from Texas and California to South Africa and Israel, consistently validate the exceptional quality of Indian River grapefruit.
George's passion for Indian River citrus runs deep, evident in his assertion that the region's fruit is not only scientifically proven to be the best but also holds a profound place in the hearts of those who cultivate and promote it. From fresh fruit growers to packers and sellers, the Indian River community shares a strong connection with grapefruit, making it an integral part of their identity.
Join Vero Heritage Center in exploring the legacy of Indian River citrus, where generations have dedicated themselves to perfecting the art of citrus cultivation. Embrace the pride and reverence that the Indian River community holds for their grapefruit, as they continue to produce fruit of unparalleled flavor and quality. Delight in the essence of Indian River citrus as George showcases the remarkable heritage that has made it the pride of Florida and the envy of citrus enthusiasts around the globe.