Weslaco (in south Texas) was declared by the Texas legislature in 1997 to be the “Citrus Capital of Texas.” A few years before, the Texas legislature declared the Texas red grapefruit to be the official state fruit. Weslaco is also known for growing the Texas 1015 onion.
Weslaco, TX (ePodunk)
“Citrus Capital of Texas”
Weslaco is a city in Hidalgo County, in the McAllen-Edinburg-Pharr metro area.
The community was named after the W.E. Stewart Land Company
The latitude of Weslaco is 26.159N. The longitude is -97.99W. It is in the Central Standard time zone. Elevation is 79 feet.
The estimated population, in 2003, was 30,416.
Official Capital Designations - Texas State Library
Citrus Capital of Texas
House Concurrent Resolution No. 149, 75th Legislature, Regular Session (1997)
H.C.R. No. 149
HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION
WHEREAS, Throughout its history, the city of Weslaco has been justly renowned for its friendly people, thriving economy, and acclaimed scientific community; and
WHEREAS, Nestled in the heart of one of the nation’s great citrus-producing regions, Weslaco is also home to the Texas A&M University—Kingsville Citrus Center (formerly Texas A&I University Citrus Center) and Texas A&M University Agricultural Research and Extension Center, where the Official State Fruit of Texas, the Red Grapefruit, was nurtured and perfected; and
WHEREAS, Citrus fruits such as grapefruits and oranges are a boon to the state economy, generating more revenue than any other tree fruit produced within our borders; and
WHEREAS, Nutritious as well as tasty, citrus fruits contain no fat or sodium, boost iron absorption, and are low in calories and rich in Vitamin C; and
WHEREAS, Weslaco’s scientific community continues to enhance the richness and flavor of these valued agricultural commodities, and citrus fruits will undoubtedly make further contributions to the Lone Star State’s economy and culture; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the 75th Legislature of the State of Texas hereby designate the City of Weslaco as the Citrus Capital of Texas.
Texas grapefruit continues to color the market
By DANIEL GARCÍA ORDAZ
Freedom News Service
Red varieties of grapefruit are already the stars of the Texas citrus industry, but their future may get even brighter.
According to the Texas Citrus Exchange (TCX), Texas has the distinction of being home to all red grapefruit varieties. At the Texas A&M University-Kingsville Citrus Center in Weslaco, Dr. Eliezer S. Louzada, an associate professor, is researching a variety that would be sweeter and darker, outside and inside, than Rio Red and Star Ruby. “Texas Red” is the fruit’s temporary, unofficial name, he said. Texas Red would have a strawberry red color.
“This is what the growers want,” Louzada said. “Darker color. Good flavor. In the international market, the redder the better.”
The plant geneticist said that testing is ongoing and it may be another seven to nine years before such a fruit goes to market. “It’s still too early,” he said.
Louzada said that of the 300 citrus plant he studies, only about two of them would yield a successful fruit. His research is supported by grants from the federal government and by the citrus industry.
TCX classifies its red grapefruit, the official State Fruit of Texas, into two categories: Ruby-Sweet and Rio Star. The Ruby-Sweet category includes the newer Ruby varieties that are three to five times darker than the original Ruby Red. Their yellow skin has a glowing blush, hinting at the juicy light-red interior. The Rio Star categorizes the deep red interior grapefruit that is five times darker than Ruby-Sweets. Its peel is tinged with an overall red blush.
Presently, the red varieties, such as Texas Star Ruby, are the darlings of local growers and the favorite of consumers worldwide. The success of the grapefruit industry is evident all over the Rio Grande Valley. Vendors line main roadways when the crops are in season.
But as TCX reports, the drive to find darker varieties is not new.
“It started in 1929 when a Ruby Red was found growing on a pink grapefruit tree,” according to TCX online. “The industry has since developed even deeper red varieties with that distinctly sweet taste and juiciness that people have come to expect from Texas.”
Louzada has no doubt that Texas produces the best grapefruit. His taste tester is his wife. “In terms of flavor, you don’t find anything better,” he said. When they lived in Florida, a main competitor to the Texas citrus industry, his wife refused to eat grapefruit, but upon tasting a red variety in the Rio Grande Valley she quickly found it to be a different fruit. “She said, ‘This, I love it,’ ” Louzada recalls. “It is delicious. It has a sweetness that you don’t find in the white varieties.”
Louzada said that despite the new, more colorful cultivars, the origin of every grapefruit could be traced to white grapefruit. The process of coloration and distinction occurs through both natural and induced mutation, he said. Both techniques are used at the research center. Louzada and his many students first find the colors they seek and then propagate materials in vitro, literally in a glass, such as a test tube or Petri dish. “We use a little tissue to make another plant,” he said.
Researchers also combine colors by grafting on the plants themselves.
“We cannot breed citrus like tomatoes. It’s completely different,” Louzada said. Citrus trees are capable of producing variation on their own, but his job is to facilitate the process. Louzada is only one of many researchers who have made the grapefruit industry succeed.
In honor of their efforts, the Texas state legislature named Weslaco the “Citrus Capital of Texas.” The USDA also has a research lab there and together the scientists have developed several varieties of grapefruit.
Festivals are a part of the fabric of the community. Weslaco celebrates the 1015 onion created in Weslaco at the local agricultural research center. The Rio Grande Valley Onion Festival is held annually in April at the City Park. The all-day event includes a variety of musical entertainment, arts & crafts show, myriad of food booths, 5-K Run/Walk, Dancing Horses show, Onion Queen contest, Onion eating contests, Onion frying contests, and the Onion clipping contest.
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Sunday, December 10, 2006 • Permalink