Located in the heart of the Texas Citrus industry in Mission, Texas, Lone Star Citrus Growers is a vertically integrated grower, packer, marketer and shipper of world famous Texas red grapefruit and sweet, juicy oranges. Independently owned and operated, our state of art processing plant utilizes the latest in harvesting, accounting, traceability and processing technology to ensure that we are always operating at peak efficiencies.
Lone Star Citrus Growers is a company passionate about our products, people and service. Born of a shared vision to provide the citrus-buying customer an alternative source of Texas citrus, three industry veterans combined their experience, strengths and resources to launch a dream. The foundation of this dream was built upon gathering a core team of employees that have been with us since the day we opened the doors in 2007.
Without the dedication and tireless efforts of these professionals, this dream could have never been realized.
Texas red grapefruit and oranges are grown in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. There are very few fruits that are as sensitive to climate variations as citrus. South Texas’ sub-tropical climate is absolutely perfect for growing Texas grapefruit and oranges. The warm breezes coming off of the Gulf of Mexico, fertile soil, and sunny weather work together to provide excellent growing conditions.Lone Star Citrus Growers carefully maintains crop quality through successful and innovative irrigation techniques, growing conditions, pruning techniques, integrated pest management programs and extensive research.
Lone Star Citrus Growers works year round evaluating tree health and fruit quality to ensure the highest quality fruit is brought to the packing house. Measuring size, interior and exterior color, sugar levels, sugar to acid ratios and external appearance of the fruit throughout the year Lone Star Citrus Growers ensures the best possible quality fruit is hand-picked at the peak of perfection.
From the moment a field truck arrives at our facility with fruit just harvested from our groves, that fruit is given an identity within our accounting system. This identity will tell the story of when and where the fruit was harvested. Throughout the time the fruit remains under our roof, it will undergo three separate transformations. halvesThe fruit will evolve from unsorted , unwashed and ungraded fruit upon its arrival, to washed, graded and size-sorted after processing.
Ultimately it will be packed into any number of various cartons, bags or bins that we offer. Regardless of the stage of the processing cycle, the identity of the fruit is never lost.
The seamless transition from one stage to the next is captured and recorded throughout the process by our proprietary software and can be used for traceability purposes at any time if needed. Additionally, we label all of our cartons and bins with a traceability bar code that allows us the ability to recall all of the specifics of that carton or bin should a food safety issue ever arise. And with our new print and apply PLU technology, we have the ability to trace fruit down to the item level.
During the months of October, November and December, the first stop the fruit makes within our facility is the degreening rooms. Although the fruit will already have reached the brix and juice content maturity standards set forth by the USDA, it might still be slightly green on the outside. We simply help Mother Nature’s natural process along with the use of ethylene, heat and humidity. All plants produce small amounts of ethylene gas naturally. As the plant matures, it converts amino acids into a gaseous form of this material, which helps the plant to ripen or bloom. By introducing very small doses of ethylene into the heated rooms with water-misting systems, the fruit’s color will transition over a very short period of time. Depending on the level of degreening needed, the fruit will remain in the rooms for a period of one to five nights.
Once the fruit is fully colored, it then begins the processing phase. The fruit is first washed using a series of baths, brushes and rollers. It is then dried in a large commercial dryer and goes directly into a waxing machine where a thin coat of food-grade wax is applied. As it exits the wax machine, it begins the grading and sorting process. We utilize what is called a “run and catch” system. Very simply, this means that we catch the fruit in large plastic bins off the sizer/grader, rather than pack it in a style or pack in hopes that a customer will want that size and pack. As our sales team receives orders from our customer base, we then convert the bulk fruit in bins into custom-packed orders. All of our fruit is packed within 24 hours of the time the order is scheduled to ship.
By utilizing this system, we have no pressure to sell a pack that a customer may not want, and we are able to ensure that everything we ship is fresh, specific to our customer’s needs and we will have little to no excess fruit sitting around packed and unsold.
With 15 docking stations Lone Star Citrus Growers is able to meet the time and space needs of our customers. We understand the importance of timely loading and do our best to operate our shipping department as efficiently as possible. Our sales department is directly connected to the packing house to best serve our customers with quality fruit and top notch service.