If an orange is not orange is it still an orange? Yes, would be the short answer.

Color of the skin has to do with temperature. Oranges grown near the equator are more likely to be green than orange.

Green skinned oranges are a rare find. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

While I have not seen a green orange in a store in Mexico, I was given one while on a tour out of Mulegé. I didn’t know what it was for sure. It looked like an orange in all ways but coloring—the texture of the rind, size, even the smell were the same as a regular orange.

It wasn’t until I cut into it at the place where I was staying that I tried it. It was indeed an orange. The flesh was a little paler, but the sweetness was outstanding.

According to the FruitGuys, “Turns out oranges develop chlorophyll as they mature on the tree. Then cool temperatures cause the chlorophyll to die off, turning the skins orange. But a sudden rise in temperature can turn them green, sometimes overnight. Especially near the equator, where temps are consistently high, ripe oranges are commonly green. Ethylene gas can be used to turn the green skin orange, but that’s not customary for fruit sold in Mexico, where most oranges are regionally grown.”

Oranges are a big part of the local diet in Mexico, with the annual per capital consumption being 37.4 kg, or 82.5 pounds. Many oranges are turned into juice.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture using Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (SADER) data says, “(Mexico) citrus production contributes 2.78 percent to the national agricultural gross domestic product, with oranges contributing 1.15 percent.”

Varietals grown in Mexico include Valencia, Lane Late Navel and Navelina, with the former the most prevalent. However, it is the navel orange that is predominantly exported to the United States. In 2018-19, only 1.3 percent of Mexico’s were exported, with most going to the States. Drought and high temps impacted the 2019-20 crop in Mexico, with the yield significantly lower, according to the USDA.

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