23, 2015 Update:
Crop Report: First we are very thankful for great weather.
This winter has been a mild one here other than last week's
single cold night (35 degree low). Most of you would have
considered that a heat wave given how cold its been up north
lately. A good rain about once a week has also been helping
too as our trees are just beginning to bloom now. I believe
we set a better crop when the soil stays moist so I'm pleased
we have not had to run the irrigation much lately.
Spring has Sprung in Florida...What's
This week should end Royal Honeybell shipping. Although they
remain available in our store, I stopped taking orders to
be sure I saved enough on the tree. Why? When bitter cold
grips an area of the country we do our best to time the shipment
to arrive on a day that isn't ridiculously cold. To do so
we sometimes delay shipping to hit the weather just right.
Those reserved honeybells are waiting for the upper mid-west,
and upper northeast's cold to break so they can arrive safely.
Basically consider honeybells sold out until January 2016.
If I have a pleasant surprise and there are more on the tree
than I think, I'll open them back up to shipping again so
keep checking back.
(aka Ortaniques): Yes! we have started shipping our remarkably
flavorful and sweet Unique Oranges as of this week. This rare
fruit grows in our own special grove in Vero Beach that has
particularly good soil. I believe they are the finest grown
anywhere in the world. Uniques are happy travelers too with
a firm peel that helps them maintain that just-picked feel
for many days. Try some and you'll agree its love at first
We are also going to start shipping Valencias this week too.
Valencias are a lot like Navels in that they look like a traditional
orange and have very few seeds. Great for hand-squeezing or
sliced in a fruit salad, Valencia's have a rich orange flesh.
Their juice content and quality is the highest of any orange
variety. This has helped to make Valencias the best known
Ruby Red Grapefruit:
Now is time when true grapefruit lover's really dig in to
their favorite fruit. Why? Because the sugar-content rises
unusually high as the fruit has been on the tree for a full
12 months in the Florida sun. From now until June some grapefruit
will actually attain over 12 brix on the refractometer (sugar-tester).
That's super sweet and this is when people that say they don't
like grapefruit get converted in droves to grapefruit lovers.
*Honey Tangerines: I am not truly thrilled with the Honey
Tangerines this year as they had multiple blooms last spring
and are just not consistent enough. I will send all of our
Honey Tangerines out next week when in their prime so I can
maximize the quality and hope that next spring's tangerine
crop has a more consistent bloom. Note- Temple Oranges are
half tangerine, half orange and are an excellent substitute
for Honey Tangerines. They don't specifically appear on our
website but are in our store so If you'd like to get some
Temples just call us and we'll be glad to ship you some, they're
super-sweet right now. Be sure and tell them to specifically
ship Temples not Uniques as Uniques are "Jamaican Temples".
1 , 2015 Update:
Happy New Year!...Honeybells are our most asked for variety.
We just started clipping the very first Honebells of the season
and they are tasting great already. We will really ramp up
the clipping over the next 2-3 weeks and always sell out fast
so please be sure to order your Honeybells without delay,
I don't want to have to wait until 2016 to send you more.
are sweet as sugar too and can also be combined with our world
famous, Indian River Ruby
Red Grapefruit.. The Navel/Honeybell combo is on special
12, 2014 Update:
The packinghouse is running smoothly and the harvesting weather
is perfect. Our plan is to keep on picking and shipping right
on through Dec 22th. Our holiday crop of Navels
and Ruby Red Grapefruit are the largest and prettiest
I've seen in years with fantastic sugar and good color. This
are ripening nicely and my sugar tests are reading higher
than in prior years. Of course, “Honeybells
for the Holidays” are still the best last minute
gift as they naturally don’t arrive until January.
That's all for now and may God Bless you with the gift of health,
31, 2014 Update:
Welcome back to our 37th CITRUS SEASON and thanks
for choosing Al's Family Farms! God's goodness is so evident
in our groves as once again as we had another calm, hurricane/tropical
storm-free growing season. Rain? Man did it rain in September
but thankfully, not too much. The trees look better than I've
seen in many years. Like I always say—when trees are
healthy the fruit reflects it and I'm so proud of my sons
Brad and Matt (you too Mr. Ray) who work so hard in our grove.
Tomorrow we will be picking
Red Navels , Ruby
Reds , Sunshine
Tangerines and Navels
for our store and for shipping to those of you who simply
can't wait any longer for the taste of Al's fresh, Indian
River Citrus. Keep in mind Thanksgiving through Christmas
is when our Indian
River Navels really reach their peak of ripeness. Look
for those super-juicy Honeybells
to come in right after Christmas.
May 28, 2014 Crop Update: Ruby Red Grapefruit, Vidalia Onions, Valencia Oranges and Georgia Chin Drip'n Peaches are our main focus right now.
I especially want to thank you for all for yet another fruitful year. Yes, we are still shipping Valencia Oranges from our Juice grove along with our sugar-sweet Ruby Red Grapefruit. We'll continue as long as the quality stays strong. Near the close of the citrus season, firmness and internal strength is more important than beauty. When I feel citrus won't arrive safely in the heat I will stop shipping and then resume when our Navel Oranges are ready to harvest in the early fall. (Valencias will remain available in our Fort Pierce Citrus Shop and at the Fort Pierce Farmer's Market.)
Don't delay- Vidalia Onions should remain available for another week or so. Brad and I packed everyone's orders with great care the week of May 12th. Our Georgia team will continue to pack your orders each week until they're gone. We brought home a whole truck load to share with friends and store customers in Fort Pierce.
Chin Drip'n Georgia Peaches are ripening in the warm hills of the western Georgia orchard. The colder than usual Winter slowed ripening by about one week so we should begin shipping big, juicy, free-stone peaches by about June 23rd. Our low cost, 2 Day Air ensures they arrive in perfect condition. Everyone is thrilled with our peaches and look forward to them every year.
April 5 , 2014 Crop Update: Easter's right
around the corner so we're adding a 1/2 lb. fudge bunny mold
full of Sharon's homemade chocolate fudge to our Easter Mega
Tray to celebrate. Uniques, Valencias, and Honey Tangerines
continue to ship along with our sugar-sweet Ruby Red Grapefruit.
Great weather, ample rainfall and lots of sun are just right
in the grove. Happy Easter and May God bless you with the
gift of health!
Feb. 28 , 2014 Crop Update: The smell of
orange blossoms are beginning to fill the air in our orange
grove and we're so pleased to begin our annual "Unique
Orange" aka Ortanique harvest. The variety lineup is
changing now as in a few days we say "so long" to
our beloved Navel Oranges and have already said "hello"
to Unique Oranges, Honey Tangerines and Valencia Oranges.
Just this week Brad was helping me in our grove, checking
the irrigation for clogged micro-jet emitters (sprinklers).
I lost him inside one of the trees. When he popped out from
behind a branch I clicked the picture you see below. It's
very satisfying when hard work pays off with a beautiful crop
of super-sweet Uniques to send to our freezing friends up
Feb. 4 , 2014 Crop Update: are on their
way. We are now packing orders marked for arrival week of
"02/02/2014". It's a great feeling to finally have
all those sweet, January honeybell oranges completely shipped
out to all destinations. We still have a few more honeybells
left in the grove but don't delay they are going fast. Our
navel oranges are super-sweet right now too and I should have
them for about 2 weeks or so and then that's it. I am starting
to harvest Temple Oranges for Valentine's Day this week and
maybe a few Uniques too. Valencias are just around the corner
Jan. 26, 2014 Crop Update: Great weather
continues and we are rapidly catching up on Honeybell orders
in our system for arrival week "01/19/2014" and
earlier. We should have all the orders for arrival week of
"01/12/2014" and earlier plus all those marked for
"January" completely shipped out to all destinations
no later than this Monday or Tuesday. Orders are typically
shipped in the date order they were received. We're working
efficiently now and should be completely caught up by mid-week.
FYI- Our Navels are fantastic too so we included a SPECIAL
on our Honeybells
juicy Navel Oranges Combo packages to save you $5.
Jan. 20, 2014 Crop Update: Perfect weather
for several days has been great for harvesting and we have
worked diligently to ship out all Honeybell orders in our
system for arrival week "01/05/2014" and earlier.
We are now working on shipping the remainder of our orders
selected for arrival week of "01/12/2014" combined
with those folks who requested arrival anytime in "January"
when the fruit tastes best. Orders are typically shipped in
the date order they were received. This spell of cool, dry
weather is exactly what the Doctor ordered and we're working
efficiently towards getting caught up again on Honeybells.
FYI- Our Navels are still fabulous! Check out the SPECIAL
running now on our Honeybells
& Navel Orange Combo.
Jan. 13, 2014 Crop Update: Good weather
today meant we had a good day harvesting honeybells and packing
today. Tomorrow looks like rain, rain, and more rain, but
we'll still be out trying to clip more honeybells and navels.
After tomorrow the forecast looks great. Cool, dry weather
is exactly what we need to get caught up.
Jan. 11, 2014 Crop Update: It's time! The
rain has finally stopped (5 + inches yesterday) and the blizzard
is over to our north so we are back out clipping Honeybells
and picking grapefruit today. Navels tomorrow. Everything
seems to have finally fallen into place so we should be wide
open on Honeybell shipping starting Monday. Orders are shipped
in the date order they were received.
(Oct-Nov. orders for Honeybells first, then December's, then
January's.) Without rain we should be caught up shipping within
about 12 days. Thanks again for your patience.
Jan. 8, 2013 Crop Update: Bitterly cold
freezing temps from Jacksonville, FL northward stopped perishable
citrus shipments from leaving Florida until today. It would
not have been wise to risk freezing everyone's fruit. Now
that temps to the north are returning to normal and our Honeybells
are finally ripening we will again resume packing and shipping
navels, honeybells, grapefruit, tangerines and Pummelos. Thank
you so much for your patience!
Remember- Al's really is a small, family farm, not
a factory. Since our inventory hangs on a tree and not in
some warehouse it takes us a few days to recover when cold
weather up north interrupts our packing schedule.
This latest cold snap actually helped the citrus peel to color
up better but I am still careful not to clip our honeybells
too soon as some crops are ready but others still need a few
more days to reach their prime. Harvesting over the
next 3 days will also be a challenge as rain is in our forecast.
Thank God that terrible cold weather stayed 200 miles to our
north and all our crops came through in terrific shape.
4 Update: This is what I call Great Fruit! Our sweet,
juicy Navel oranges have reached their prime and are guaranteed
to delight. I know your winter has been bitterly cold up north
but we have actually had record warmth here in Florida. HONEYBELL
REPORT as of last night, January 3, 2014- We finally got our
cool weather and good things are happening in our Honeybells
crops. Yesterday evening Matt and I were thrilled to discover
a good color change and sugar content rising quickly in our
Fort Pierce Honeybells. I have given instructions to begin
clipping in the Fort Pierce grove on Monday a.m. weather permitting.
We should have honeybells in our store by Tuesday a.m. Our
first truck heading towards the far west should go out on
Tuesday afternoon. Please be patient... There are many Honeybell
orders already in the system and to ship the very best quality
honeybells, we base packing timing on each crop's sugar level,
not a computer date.
January 3 Update: This is what I call
Great Fruit! Our sweet,
juicy Navel oranges have reached their prime and are
guaranteed to delight. I know your winter has been bitterly
cold up north but we have actually had record warmth here
in Florida. Honeybells
are nearly ready but I am patiently
waiting for full maturity. They are "good" now
but "good" is simply not good enough for Al's
Family Farms customers. I am waiting for "great"
so I still need a couple more cool nights to set the sugar
content and give them a bit more orange peel color. I was
out checking the young tree honeybell grove last night with
Matthew, my youngest boy. Today I will be out in the big
grove doing more tests and I'll keep you updated on what
day I can give Felix the go ahead to begin clipping Honeybells
for 2014. It should be any day now and I sure do thank you
for your patience.
October 31st Update: I am so very pleased
with our early citrus harvest. Pleased enough that I have
decided to start sending November’s a.s.a.p. fruit
orders out one week ahead of schedule. Our navel oranges
already taste so good there’s simply no point in delaying.
The Indian River Grapefruit are particularly pretty this
season with a good blush and our Tangerine harvest has just
begun. In few words, “it’s a very good season
here at Al’s Family Farms.”
September 13th Update: I was out and about the groves testing fruit this weekend and from what I'm cutting and tasting, everything seems to be ripening exactly on time. We normally begin harvesting Navels and Grapefruit for Al’s store by the 2nd - 3rd week in October and this year should be no exception. Of course store fruit and gift fruit are not the same. The locals ask us everyday- "how much longer?" We'll fill the store with early citrus as the locals just need their "fix". For them it’s O.K. to start early but not for you. Shipping customers are special and require particularly fine fruit. I feel the citrus will be ripe and ready enough to begin shipments by November 6 (give or take a few days). That’s pretty much a "normal" startup schedule for us and lends itself well for some mighty fine-eating fruit for Thanksgiving. Club members can expect to receive the first box by mid-November but be sure to renew by October 31 to get the extra freebies for ordering early (see below).