Most of the time, you buy oranges at a grocery store. But what if you want to guarantee fresh picks, or even learn about other types of oranges? An orange grove is just the thing!
Just like Florida, Arizona has a hot and sunny climate that’s perfect for growing orange trees. Some types of oranges you’re looking for could more likely be found in a grove than in a store!
Keep reading to learn about these four orange groves in Arizona!
The 4 Best Arizona Orange Groves
1. Cotton Lane Citrus U-Pick
Cotton Lane Citrus U-Pick is an original Arizona orange grove, with its spliced trees being the secret to great navel oranges. The u-pick opens on December 10 (except Christmas Day) and closes at the end of March next year.
Getting in is free, and all you pay for is the citrus in the 15- or 40-pound bag they provide you! They hold private tours to educate large groups (family, friends, and students) about their fruit trees.
Because the orchard also sells raw honey year-round, bees will be found living in the trees. If you have a bee allergy, be sure to keep your medicine close and wear protective clothing.
2. Justice Brothers Ranch and U-Pick
Justice Brothers Ranch and U-Pick is the longest continually operating orange grove in Arizona. Because the ranch used to be a research grove for the University of Arizona, it holds 75-plus varieties of oranges!
Visitors reported that the ranch is easy to navigate thanks to good mapping. In addition, they were given tips on organic gardening as they learned about growing orange trees.
The u-pick ranch opens in December and lasts until April, an extra month compared to Cotton Lane!
3. Hagen Farms
Queen Creek, Arizona
At Hagen Farms, you’re provided a 10-pound bag to collect your oranges, similar to how Cotton Lane operates! This family farm has over 200 citrus trees for you to pick oranges that are a dollar per pound.
Unlike the last two orange groves in Arizona, you can book an appointment for a private u-pick or tour! The tours last for 45 minutes to an hour. You’ll learn about the farm’s history and the types of citrus that are growing there.
The citrus season at Hagen Farms starts in early January and ends in April. Dates and hours of opening vary, but you’ll find the necessary information on their Facebook page.
4. Agritopia Farm
It’s not exclusively an orange grove in Arizona. But Agritopia Farm’s citrus orchard is one of the many produce sections contributing to the farm’s goal of preserving urban agriculture.
Agritopia Farm is also passionate about bringing the community together in growing fruits and vegetables. Their events focus on connecting visitors with local farmers and teaching them about gardening through their tours.
While you pick oranges, make some new friends and learn about gardening!
Why Aren’t There More Orange Groves in Arizona?
Four is a small number when choosing the best Arizona orange grove to visit. Though there’s less pressure in deciding, you still wonder, why aren’t there more groves?
According to a post on History Adventuring, the fertile desert of the Phoenix area produced many oranges years ago. They were said to be expensive, and growing them was a big deal to the residents.
Unfortunately, after World War II, housing and development diminished the value of growing oranges and replaced most of the groves. Luckily, there are still a few orange groves in Arizona operating—housing is essential, but so is growing food.
Arizona Orange Grove Alternatives
When there are no orange groves, there are farmers’ markets that can make up for that. You won’t be exploring the trees and fields, but the stands still offer oranges fresh off the tree. Here are two markets that do this:
Orange Patch Too
Orange Patch Too started out as a roadside stand called Orange Patch by two citrus farmers. Because people loved going out to the country to buy citrus, the stand expanded until the farmers opened a second location.
They have over a hundred acres of the best oranges growing in Mesa, Arizona’s rich soil. Since they have 50 years of experience growing oranges, you know you’ll be walking out with the finest quality citrus!
For people who can’t visit the store, they’ll ship the oranges early in December until February.
Citrus Heights Farms
Another market that sells fine citrus in Arizona is Citrus Heights Farms. They mostly sell navel oranges, as well as grapefruits and lemons. Every day except Sunday, you can have your pick of fresh oranges or select a size box of them.
Just like Orange Patch Too, if you can’t make it to the market, Citrus Heights Farms will ship the oranges. They pick, pack, and ship them on the same day to ensure you receive them fresh!
Preparing Your Arizona Oranges
If you’ve picked oranges from either grove listed above, you’re ready to prepare them for eating and drinking. Here are a few types of oranges that are perfect for the following preparations:
Tangelos, tangerines, and clementines are seedless oranges, so they’re perfect for making orange juice. For sweet orange juice, strain a clementine or tangerine, or strain a tangelo for a little sweet-and-sour flavor!
Some recipes call for specific types of oranges for their sweet, tart, sour, and unique flavors. They don’t have to settle for just toppings to your salads! A couple of examples include:
Explore the Orange Groves in Arizona!
Picking oranges in Arizona may not be as big as in the past, but it’s still an experience worth preserving. The farmers in Arizona sure understand that, or else you wouldn’t have known about the four listed groves!
Visit our Orange Trees page to learn more about kinds of oranges, orange groves in other states, and how to make the most of this citrus!