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Our oranges:
We don’t take them for granted - they are very special for us.

The name Dittmeyer is connected inseparably with citrus fruits. Starting in 1980 Rolf H. Dittmeyer cultivated the first oranges in the most southern part of Andalusia – on the Portuguese border in the area of Ayamonte, Lepe and Isla Cristina. In the course of the years it became not only the largest citrus plantation in Europe, above all, however, also one of the most beautiful ones!

One easily speaks of them, but, nevertheless, there is to tell a lot of interesting facts about oranges.

The orange is an evergreen tree. It belongs within the family of rhomb plants (Rutaceae) to the genus of citrus fruit. The orange originates from China or South-East Asia as the result of a cross breeding between tangerine (Citrus reticulata) and grapefruit (Citrus maxima). The bitter orange originating from the same parents is to be distinguished from the sweet ones because of its totally different use. While the bitter orange has come at the latest in the 11th century to Italy, the sweet variation was introduced only in the 15th century to Europe, where it was grown first almost exclusively in Portugal. Today it is the most often cultivated citrus fruit of the world.
Orange trees have a growing height of up to five metres, their round crown shows a regular ramification. The saplings are edged and have thin, pliable, rather dull thorns. Orange trees develop their fruits – as many other citrus fruits do - also without exogamy.

The orange fruit (Hesperidium) consists of ten to 13 segments which are filled with juice tubes from mostly orange colour. Every segment is surrounded by a thin membrane (Endokarp), the whole fruit by a split peel. The peel’s inner layer is white (Mesokarp, Albedo), it’s outside layer at the time of ripeness is of orange colour (Exokarp, Flavedo). The peel has numerous oil glands, which exude an aromatic smell. Peel and segments are coalesced, thus, it is more difficult to peel the orange fruit than other citrics. The central axis of the fruit is not hollow – in contrast to the bitter orange-. The seeds are oval with rough pods. Every seed mostly contains many embryos of different size.

Oranges are very popular, but also very demandingly

To comprehend the issue of cultivating citrics, one should know that a good quality of oranges at first makes three demands to the cultivation area:

Warm days and chilly nights, but no frost

One single frosty night is able to destroy the whole orange harvest of one year. However, the late variety Valencia-Late, which is particularly suitable for good juice, is harvested only from the end of March / beginning of April till June – thus, the frost risk is quite high.

Enough water

An orange tree needs about 100 litres of water per day. Around the Mediterranean it does practically not rain between May and October of every year. So a adequate ground water reservoir is necessary.

A suitable ground

On this occasion, is to be noted that nutrient-rich grounds bear large and strong trees. Such a ground generates oranges with a thick peel, which is definitely unwished. A qualitatively good fruit grows best of all on sandy soil, poor in nutrient.

Found a plantation while searching for ground?
It was not so easy!

Considering the above demands Rolf H. Dittmeyer after time-consuming investigations finally found in Europe a climatically very rare shore line suitable for the plantation of citrics: in the province of Huelva on the Andalusian Atlantic coast, very close to the Portuguese border.

During the government of Franco this region had been used for the cultivation of Eucalyptus trees for the paper production. Coming from Australia the Eucalyptus is rather sensitive to frost, but can subsist in the summer many months without rain. Spanish farmers look at Eucalyptus, however, as a sort of weed, which “devours” it all: In an Eucalyptus wood no other plant prospers, no shrub and no tree. There are no birds, no rabbits, neither moles nor other animal
On the envisaged area we found at 80-m depth excellent ground water. But what was missing in this shore line was, however, a suitable ground. The hilly ground there consists of water-impenetrable clay and of loam. In the surface layer there were 10 to 30 cm of sand. Clay soils and mucky grounds permit neither the penetration of the roots of the orange trees, nor is it possible to install a drainage. If trees get, however, "wet feet“, this is as bad, as if they receive no water.

Our vision has asserted itself.
With ideas which are today often a standard.

Many of our advisers urgently advised against planting here oranges. Still we dared to plant this area according to extensive studies and under the professional management of our Spanish friend Jaime de Parias Merry. In addition two measures were taken, which were new for Europe: First: The bit of sand in the upper ground was pushed together to planting walls as it is also done in the case of potatoes - and the young orange trees were planted on top of these embankments.
Secondly: With Israeli licence and a German machine Dittmeyer, for the first time in Spain, installed dripping tubes, which distribute a determined volume of water in a controlled way.
Two easy measures which formed, however, the base for our success: Thus, by means of new founded Dittmeyer-Agricola companies, Seville, in the years from 1980 to 1987 a total of nearly 1,000 hectares of new oranges and clementines plantations were developed. Being so far the largest citric plantations throughout Europe. In addition a excellent team of Spanish agrarian experts was formed, who look 365 days in the year after the quality of the fruits. During the next 7 years these new plantations came successively to production.

Today our group harvests yearly about 30,000 tonnes of qualitatively high-class fruits, which because of their good quality have successfully found friends throughout the West-European markets.