CITRUS CLIMATE REQUIREMENTS
When we think citrus trees, they bring to mind warm, sunny places, perhaps even somewhere tropical. Lemons, oranges and many common citrus fruit do well in warm temperatures generally between 25-30°C. These balmy temperatures, such as that experienced in Southern Italy, are key to growing quality citrus fruit. The highest temperature citrus trees can handle varies. In the case of lemon trees, temperatures above 40°C can cause little or no growth.
Citrus trees are most sensitive to frost. The lowest temperature a lemon tree can handle is around -1°, -2°C where it will start suffering damage to its precious blossoms (called “zagara”) and fruit. Oranges and grapefruit are generally hardier and can sustain temperatures generally as low as -4°C, and tangerines and mandarins even lower.
In combination with temperatures, another climate factor affecting citrus farming is wind. Ever wonder why in Southern Italy citrus groves tend to be near the sea? That’s because the warm sea breeze helps in growing lemons – they are sensitive to cold winds that can damage the fruit. And the proof is in the lemon: the world famous Limone di Amalfi and Limone di Sorrento, grow on the steep cliffs of the Amalfi and Sorrento coast, where many citrus groves are still only accessible by steep staircases!
Citrus farming is a practice that requires “a true passion,” says our citrus grove farmer Giosuè Arcoria, owner and farmer of the citrus grove where oranges for Sanpellegrino Italian Sparkling Drinks are grown. From fertilization, checking the beehives to help pollination, manually collecting the fruit with scissors and hand tools, the work of a citrus farmer is one that is learnt over a lifetime of experience.
Check out our exclusive interview with our farmer Goisuè Arcoria and discover what the day to day life of a citrus farmer in Sicily looks like!