LoBue Citrus has begun shipments of its Heritage Reserve Navel oranges for the third season. Heritage Reserve Navels are grown on mature trees that produce naturally great-tasting fruit that is packed to order by LoBue Citrus, based in Lindsay, CA.
"Each season we receive letters and emails from consumers raving about how much they love Heritage Reserve Navel oranges," said Rick Osterhues, vice president of sales and marketing at LoBue Citrus. "Their great flavor is a result of our growers' commitment to sustainability and the innovative practices in place that have kept these original groves productive — some for over 100 years."
Heritage Reserve Navels are grown within a unique sub-section of California's renowned Central Valley citrus-growing region. The groves were first planted between 1898 and 1960 to the original Washington-variety budwood, and have never been replanted.
Many customers are aware of the history of these old trees from four mother trees originally out of Brazil. One of those original trees is still alive in Riverside, CA. LoBue has the greatest proportion of trees from this heritage.
These orange groves in the eastern San Joaquin Valley thrive in a microclimate and sandy soils unique to their growing region — a narrow, 20-mile-long area adjacent to the western foothills of Sequoia National Park. Decades of consistent farming practices have nurtured optimal flavor.
Retailers participating in the Heritage Reserve Navel program have shown solid category growth. The program is supported with high-graphic packaging, point-of-sale materials and merchandise bins. Quick response codes on packages and POS materials link to a video where LoBue family members talk about the history of the legacy groves.
Heritage Reserve Navels are expected to be available through early April. These original trees produce a smaller size profile, and this year that fact is very apparent.
"These smaller fruit sizes, such as the 113s and 88s, are where we are getting the best taste," Mr. Osterhues said. "We are confident they will meet and exceed flavor expectations."