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The story of a dynamic industry that dominated Lake County for more than 125 years
Carter Fruit Company
Sign sponsored by Micheloni/Geraci family
In appreciation to all employees and growers
“Peter Micheloni wanted to sell the packing house. While he, his wife, son in law and other family members were on vacation in Italy his daughter, Jane, stayed in town to run the packing house. She located and arranged for the sale of the packing house. When the family returned from Italy, Mr. Micheloni sold his packing house (real property) in Mascotte on October 1, 1965 to the Carter’s. Leonard C. Carter was a lawyer out of Lakeland. The packing house was sold in the last quarter of 1965 and there was not enough time for the Carters to develop a label so they acquired and used the same label. It was a #1 fruit label for my grandfather and for the Carter Fruit Co. This is the BEACH LAKE label that was used by Peter Micheloni and then by Carter Fruit Company.”
From Anita Geraci as related to her by her mom Jane Micheloni Geraci
Carter Fruit Company shipped 380,000 cartons of fruit in 1971. They were one of the 16 packinghouses registered with the Florida Department of Agriculture. Carter Fruit was number 5 in the county that season in fruit shipments. The only other label that could be found was also a Micheloni one. The Carters knew the reputation that was already established for these labels so they continued to use them for their operation of the ‘former’ Micheloni packinghouse.
Other Labels Used by Carter Fruit Company
View the Jerry Chicone collection
View the Jim Ellis collection
Most packers had several labels they could use. The primary color of the label indicated the grade of the citrus in the box. Blue was US #1, the best quality from the packer. Red was US #2, a step down and occasionally another color was used for fruit not making US#1 or US #2. It should be noted that almost all the Florida fruit that did not meet US#1 standard was due to external appearance. The internal quality was the same! Florida conditions, namely a hot wet summer, produced a large number of pests that would damage the surface of the fruit. The primary one is very small mite, specifically the rust mite. This pest can produce a dark brown or russet blemish on the surface of the fruit. Several fungal organisms also can cause damage to the peal. Melanose produces small raised spots producing a fine “sand paper’ feel. When heavy these lesions can cover a large portion of the fruit surface as well. Windy conditions during spring when the fruit are small cause surface damage as well (this is known as wind scar – the small fruit would rub against leaves producing a superficial blemish to the peel).
Florida growers have to deal with these superficial blemishes because the consumer is looking for a perfect looking piece of fruit. Sugar content cannot be determined by looking the fruit, so don’t be quick to decide that if an orange is not perfect on the outside that does not mean it will not taste good. Florida citrus might not be the prettiest in the bin, but they cannot be beat for taste.
The Packing House
Carter Island Fruit Company house was located in Mascotte.
To learn more about Lake County citrus click here
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