In 1993 the Texas Legislature designated red grapefruit as the State Fruit of Texas. The Texas citrus industry annually produces more tonnage, about 80% of which is grapefruit, than all other tree fruits and nuts in Texas combined. The quality and importance of Texas red seedless grapefruit helped it obtain this prestigious designation.
Grapefruit apparently originated as a natural mutation of the shaddock or pummelo somewhere in the West Indies. The first record of the term grapefruit occurred in 1814 in Jamaica. Count Odette Phillipe, a Spanish don, is credited for its introduction to the United States who planted it in Pinellas County, FL, about 1823.
The major grapefruit varieties in Texas are Rio Red, Ruby Red, and Henderson/Ray. All were discovered in Texas and all are red-fleshed, seedless and have varying degrees of redness in the peel.
‘Henderson’ and ‘Ray’ are usually lumped together in the industry as they are nearly indistinguishable. Both were discovered in the Valley in the early 1970′s.The fruit of these two varieties is similar to ‘Ruby Red’ except that the peel is more attractive than ‘Ruby Red’ and the flesh is even redder. It retains some semblance of redness far longer than is the case with ‘Ruby Red’.
Texas markets its ‘Ruby Red’ and ‘Henderson’/\’Ray’ under the name Ruby-Sweet. Some ‘Henderson’ fruit are marketed as ‘Flame’ to distinguish it from ‘Ruby Red’ and to capitalize on Florida’s ‘Flame’ grapefruit which is a nucellar ‘Henderson’ . ‘Rio Red’ is marketed under the name Rio Star.
Mature Tree Care
Watering of your grapefruit trees should be slow and thorough; probably every week or two would suffice in any but the very sandy soils. Nutrition should continue at about 1 cup of ammonium sulfate per year of tree age annually with split applications in February, May and
September. You’ll need to adjust the rate for other fertilizers based upon the relative nitrogen content.
No pruning should be necessary, as the grapefruit tree will develop its natural shape without pruning. While mulching is not recommended for citrus trees, if you must mulch, keep the mulch at least one foot away from the tree trunk.