Grapefruit was introduced to Florida by Count Odet Philippe in the year 1806. He was a native of France and was exploring the New World. He brought grapefruits along with him and planted the first tree in Tampa of Florida in a grove. During the first harvest, the fruits and seeds were circulated in the neighboring areas. However, grapefruit was not vied as a commercial fruit until the early part of the 1800s.
In the beginning, the fruit was not utilized fully to its potential. Even though they grew in Jamaica, these trees were often felled. At that time sugar was more important for Jamaicans. According to records available from Farm and Livestock, John A McDonald, who used to live in Orange County, was taken up by the yellow peel of the grapefruit and he bought an entire crop of it and planted it in California.
The first grapefruit plant that was planted was called Hill. A man called George W. Bowen developed the fruit commercially in 1875. By that time there was already significant demand for grapefruit in the north. New York started importing the fruit from the West Indies in 1874. Florida started cultivating and started making shipments to New York and Philadelphia by then recognizing the demand.
In the year 1898, Dr. David Fairchild was so excited about the fruit that he invested in 2,000 grapefruit trees. He was also amazed to see the same trees in Texas, whereas he thought the weather was too cold to grow grapefruit trees. He learned that the tree which had frozen to ground there had recovered in warm weather. He was the person who predicted the growth in citrus industry in the year 1928. By the time 1940 came along, the US started exporting more than 11,000,000 cases of grapefruit to the country.
By the 1960s even Mexico started producing grapefruit. The citrus fruit industry at that time saw a decline in oranges and tangerines when grapefruit started gaining popularity. Even countries like Cuba took after Mexico in growing grapefruit. The grapefruit was growing in a small way and was given equal importance like pomelo, which is an oriental fruit. The fruit has been cultivated commercially in India in the recent years because it could grow well in warm and humid weather. The Mandarin and sweet oranges are prone to sunburn unlike the grapefruit. Through its sturdiness, the grapefruit has earned more respect in the recent years compares to other citrus succulents.
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