This paper is a discussion of oranges, their development as a fruit crop, and the effects of weather, climate, and other environmental forces on their growth. Although oranges are familiar fruits across the world, they are a relatively modern addition to international food choices, providing health benefits as well as culinary diversity. They can be grown widely but only within the "citrus belt," the latitudes that allow for the temperate climates and sufficient rainfall that the trees need to produce healthy, good-sized fruit.
Oranges are believed to have originated in the more tropical regions of China and the Malay Archipelago. Leon D. Batchelor and Walton S. Sinclair write, "Oranges and other citrus species have been cultivated from remote ages, and records of this early distribution from the original habitat to nearby countries are lost in antiquity" (3).
They did not begin their trek across the so-called citrus belt, the area 40 degrees above and below the equator in which most citrus trees thrive, until Roman times. The Greeks seem not to had any knowledge of any kind of citrus fruit or tree. The Romans record the discovery of citron trees in Palestine in the first century AD, trees which were imported to Italy and began to be widely planted in the second and third centuries, especially near Naples. Yet these citrons, the forerunners of modern oranges, were not a food crop. They were used primarily to provide a pleasant fragrance in rooms and to repel insects, but produced an almost inedible fruit.
The first solid records of the fruit that the modern farmer would recognize as an orange was in the ninth century in Arabia and in Sicily in 1002. Byzantine mosaics include depictions of oranges. These were sour or bitter oranges (Citrus aurantium) that eventually became equated in the public mind with Spain as Seville oranges, and they made their first appearance in that country during the occupation of the Moors...