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The Oro Blanco Grapefruit Tree

An Oro Blanco grapefruit is actually a hybrid fruit. This thick-skinned fruit tastes similar to a white grapefruit but is significantly less acidic, making it a delicious treat that won’t make you pucker up!

Closeup of two whole Oro Blanco grapefruit and a cut half grapefruit.
Oro Blanco grapefruit.

In this article, we’ll outline all you need to know about this grapefruit hybrid known as “white gold”, including its history and how to plant and prepare it.

History of the Oro Blanco Grapefruit Tree

The Oro Blanco grapefruit does not have a long history. It was developed at the University of California Riverside in 1958 at the citrus experiment station. Researchers crossed a pomelo and white grapefruit, intending to create a citrus fruit that was low in acid and much sweeter than most varieties.

The experiment took more than 20 years from conception to commercial release in 1981. Though they are sold throughout the United States, they became particularly popular in Israel, where they were further cross-bred to create similar varieties. 

Oro Blanco Grapefruit Tree / Fruit Characteristics

Greenish yellow grapefruit hanging on a tree.

Oro Blanco Grapefruits are medium-sized trees. Heavy pruning can restrict their size, making them perfect for growing in a pot or a greenhouse. They are moderately cold hardy, able to withstand temperatures as low as 32 degrees Fahrenheit. 

With large white flowers that are exceptionally fragrant, the Oro Blanco Grapefruit tree is a beautiful ornamental as well as excellent for fruit. 

The fruit itself is medium in size and known for its strong floral scent. It has a thick peel that remains green even when ripe, which hindered its popularity in the United States as customers thought that it wasn’t ready to be eaten! 

The inside of the Oro Blanco grapefruit includes a thick white rind and soft, yellowish-green flesh. This can be easily peeled away by hand, making the fruit easy to eat. Thanks to its hybrid breeding, the Oro Blanco is naturally seedless. 

Planting Zones

The Oro Blanco Grapefruit tree is best suited to warmer, more temperate climates. It thrives in USDA growing zones 9 through 11 and cannot withstand temperatures below freezing. For this reason, it makes an excellent variety for indoor growing, especially in a greenhouse, where it can enjoy year-round warmth and light. 

Size and Spacing

When fully mature, the Oro Blanco Grapefruit tree reaches between 10 and 15 feet tall. However, it is fairly easy to maintain a dwarf variety by pruning it extensively. 

Full-sized trees have a wide spread and need about 23 feet of ground to themselves. Make sure to give each tree enough space to allow for optimal root and canopy spread, which lets the trees soak up all the nutrients from the soil and sun. 

Pollination

Unlike most citrus varieties, the Oro Blanco Grapefruit tree is self-fertile. That means that it does not need a pollination partner and will produce fruit on its own. However, you can often increase the size of your fruit yield by adding a second citrus variety nearby, while still allowing your Oro Blanco Grapefruit tree enough space to spread its roots. 

Tree Care 

With basic care and the right conditions, the Oro Blanco Grapefruit tree is a fairly hardy and low-maintenance plant. As we mentioned above, it prefers warm, temperate climates and can’t handle freezing temperatures. But thanks to its careful and deliberate breeding, it can thrive with basic care and good gardening practices!

Sunlight

Like most citrus trees, the Oro Blanco Grapefruit loves the sun. Plant it in full sun, meaning a minimum of eight hours of sunlight a day. This is one way that planting it in a pot and keeping it indoors can be helpful — it is easy to move the tree around to make sure it has regular access to sunshine! More than eight hours is also healthy for the Oro Blanco Grapefruit.

Watering

The Oro Blanco Grapefruit tree likes moist soil with good drainage, but not overly wet or swampy surroundings, which can cause disease. Water your tree about once every two weeks during the growing period. The best way to do this is through deep watering. Place a trickling hose in the root system and let it run for about an hour. This helps the water penetrate deep into the soil (as much as 36 inches!) without flooding the area. 

Pruning 

Pruning is important for any fruit tree to ensure healthy growth and optimal fruit production. For trees like the Oro Blanco, which may be grown inside, pruning can help you keep the plant in the best size and shape for indoor growing. 

To do basic pruning, stick to once a year. The best time to do it is in the early spring, just after the grapefruit has been harvested (remember that grapefruit is a winter crop!). Focus on removing crossing, dead, or diseased branches to direct nutrients to healthy, fruit-producing branches.

Diseases 

The Oro Blanco grapefruit tree is not highly susceptible to diseases, though it is not completely immune. Common diseases that affect citrus trees include citrus nematode, bacterial blast, root rot, and the deadly citrus greening. You can learn more about common grapefruit tree diseases here

Pests

Grapefruit trees can attract a number of pests. Some of the most common include the citrus leaf miner, scale insects, thrips, and beetles.

Common Uses For The Oro Blanco Grapefruit

Closeup of cut pieces of Oro Blanco grapefruit in a container at a farmers market display.

The Oro Blanco grapefruit’s unique sweetness makes it hugely popular in certain parts of the world, including Israel and Asia, where it is often eaten raw or in juice. 

What Does The Oro Blanco Grapefruit Taste Like? 

The Oro Blanco grapefruit has been described as a mild grapefruit with a sugary taste. Unlike most grapefruit varieties, which can be sour or bitter, the Oro Blanco is sweet, juicy, and mild. The fruit has an extremely floral taste and aroma. The only bitter part of the fruit is the pith, which is quick and easy to remove. 

Cooking

There are many ways to cook with grapefruit, and it is used in cuisines around the world! Grapefruits are often paired with meats in the form of glazes and sauces or used in baking to make pies, cakes, and other treats. 

Eating Raw

The Oro Blanco is a great choice for eating raw, not only because of its mild flavor but also because it is easy to handle. You can either cut it or peel it into segments by hand, much like an orange. 

Canning / Freezing / Drying

Grapefruit is great for canning and preserving, especially as jam, jelly, sauce, or marmalade. You can also freeze it. The best way to do this is to cut or separate it into pieces and discard the peel. A grapefruit can be frozen for up to 12 months. 

Since most of their texture and flavor comes from their juice content, grapefruits aren’t a great choice for drying (if you want to eat them, that is!). You can, however, dry them for use in potpourri and other aromatic mixes. 

Recipes

There are countless ways to use grapefruit in cooking. Check out our post with 21 great grapefruit recipes, including dishes like grapefruit relish, citrus and roasted beet salad, and doughnuts with grapefruit curd. 

Health Benefits Of The Oro Blanco Grapefruit

Closeup of picked green-yellow Oro Blanco grapefruit.

Grapefruits are widely known as an incredibly healthy fruit! They are packed with important nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin A, and fiber. Most amazingly, they contain antioxidants that may help battle serious diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Where To Buy Oro Blanco Grapefruit Tree

Oro Blanco Grapefruit trees have long been a favorite of home growers and gardeners, since they are hardy and easy to care for! You can buy rootstocks from online retailers such as Nature Hills

Where To Buy Oro Blanco Grapefruits 

You may not be able to find Oro Blanco grapefruits in just any supermarket, unless you live in USDA growing zones 9 through 11. If you don’t spot them on the shelf, ask around at your local farmers’ market to see if they are grown nearby! 

FAQ

Is Oro Blanco Grapefruit Good For You? 

Oro Blanco grapefruit is extremely healthy. In addition to the health benefits listed above, it is also low in sugar — despite its deep sweetness. This makes it a healthy choice for almost everyone!

How Fast Do Oro Blanco Grapefruit Trees Grow?

Most grapefruit trees grow quickly, averaging about 12 inches a year. You can expect your Oro Blanco grapefruit tree to produce fruit in the third year after it is first planted, given the proper care and growing conditions. 

Conclusion

Closeup of yellow Oro Blanco grapefruit.

Extremely sweet and hardy, the Oro Blanco grapefruit is the perfect example of what science can achieve when it comes to hybrid plants. Its green skin hides the presence of ripe, ready fruit that you will want to eat again and again.

Have you tried the Oro Blanco grapefruit? Let us know in the comments!