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The Jaffa orange, also known as the Shamouti orange, is a very sweet, almost seedless orange exported from Israelmarker. It takes its name from the city of Jaffamarker.


Jaffa oranges are very similar to Valencia oranges, though they are much sweeter. They are characterized by their oval shape, sweet flavor, and strong aroma. The peel is light orange in color, and is normally very easy to remove from the fruit.

These oranges are very cold-tolerant, allowing them to grow outside of the subtropical regions normally associated with growing oranges. Jaffa oranges ripen in the spring-to-summer months, making it a midseason fruit.

Jaffa oranges are susceptible to Alternaria, a type of fungus, and are prone to alternate bearing.


According to Daniel Rogov, the variety "originated in Chinamarker and Cochinchina". No one knows precisely when the sweet orange was introduced into Palestine, but the first orange tree was probably brought to this part of the world in the early 16th century, when Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama brought a root of the tree from China to Portugalmarker. It is from that single tree, still preserved in Lisbonmarker at the home of the Count de Saint-Laurent, that all of the oranges of Portugal, Spain, France and Israel have descended.

Initial development during the 19th century

The development of Steam ships in the first half of the 19th century and their arrival in the Port of Jaffa enabled the export of oranges to the European markets in days rather than weeks and accelerated the growth of orange exports from 200,000 oranges in 1845, to 38 million oranges by 1870.

In the pre-1948 economy of Palestine

The Jaffa Orange brand from Sarona
The first fruits to carry the "Jaffa orange" brand were from an agricultural colony of the Temple Society in Sarona (commonly pronounced Sharona, est. 1871).

According to the Hope Simpson Royal Commission Report of 1930,
"The cultivation of the orange, introduced by the Arabs before the commencement of Jewish settlement, has developed to a very great extent in consequence of that settlement. There is no doubt that the pitch of perfection to which the technique of plantation and cultivation of the orange and grape-fruit have been brought in Palestine is due to the scientific methods of the Jewish agriculturist."

This variety of orange was first brought to the United States by H. S. Stanford during the 1880s. Stanford brought the oranges to Floridamarker, where they are still grown today.

By 1939, the combined Jewish and Arab orange orchards in Palestine totaled , employing over 100,000 workers, and their produce was a primary export of the economy. During World War II (1939-1945) the local orange agriculture sunk into a depression. Postwar recovery followed, with vigorous assistance by British Mandate authorities. The 1948 Arab Israeli War brought deterioration and neglect to the fields, as well as the settlement of many remaining Arab orchards by Jewish farmers.

In Israel

The years following Israel's independence in 1948 heralded a revival of the industry, with oranges becoming one of the top exports of Israel, still among the largest producers in the world, and 'Jaffa' became a well known trademark of the young country. Towards the end of the 20th century, decline set in again. Orange producers such as Spainmarker and Brazilmarker have taken the lead , particularly due to their relative abundance of water, inexpensive labor. Moreover, increased Israeli reliance on Palestinian-Arab labor in agriculture has exposed the industry to workforce shortages in times of Arab-Israeli clashes. In later years, Israeli agriculture came to depend on migrant laborers from Thailandmarker and other Asian and East European countries, also intensifying the shift of agricultural exports from crop production towards other sectors where Israel remains competitive, such as high-technology agricultural research and development.In November 2008 Jaffa oranges began being sold with carbon labels. Working with the Carbon Trust in the UK, the company Mehadrin developed a label stating the amount of carbon dioxide emissions generated in the growing and shipping of its oranges.


  1. * Shamouti Orange
  2. Daniel Rogov's Citrus Fruits - Thanks to da Gama
  3. The Hope Simpson Report at UNISPAL. CHAPTER VIII. Agricultural Produce. (a) CITRUS CULTIVATION
  4. [1]

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