The story of a dynamic industry that dominated Lake County for more than 125 years
The citrus industry in Lake County has an illustrious past and through this website we want to share the story of this remarkable industry. We will provide various means to share the story of Lake County citrus. Narrated presentations, video interviews, many pictures, written material and links to other sites that have much to say and share about Lake County citrus.
Did you know citrus is not native to Florida, but like the huge majority of the residents of Lake County found the climate delightful? The soil was perfect, rainfall abundant and the hot days produced fantastic fruit. Citrus arrived via the Spaniards in 1565.
Did you know in 1847 Captain Melton Haynes planted a citrus nursery at Tomato Hill? This kick started an industry that was to dominate Lake County for more than 125 years.
Did you know that the first citrus experiment station in the world was established in Eustis in 1892 when the USDA responded to a request from Mrs. Tom Platt for help with growing her crop? Drs. Swingle and Weber along with grower Frank Savage started a plant improvement program that has produced many hybrid selections that have been an essential part of the industry.
Did you know that Peter Micheloni and his sister immigrated from Italy when he was 17 and found his way to Groveland where he established a citrus packinghouse house, planted some groves and was one of many growers that provided the financial foundation for his community?
Did you know that the acres of citrus reached over 140,000 and in 1980 44 million boxes were produced – a box contains an average of 350 fruit and weighs 90 pounds – this means 13 billion pieces of fruit were picked by hand and 2 million tons were transported to the 5 processing plants and 26 fresh fruit packing houses in Lake County. Almost 29,000 were employed to grow, harvest, pack, process and market the crop. Economic impact exceeded $800M! By the way each acre of citrus captures and filters 1.25 million gallons of water each year AND citrus provided a large portion of ad valorem tax dollars yet demanded very little services – not one tree ever attended school or checked out a library book!
What a history! There are hundreds of stories, interesting facts, challenging events and many remarkable people you will meet as you explore this web site. It will be an enjoyable and fascinating journey. Enjoy!!