REDLANDS, Calif. – The city of Redlands owns and farms 16 citrus groves spread across 186 acres to preserve the area's rich orange grove heritage.
The Citrus Division, supported by the Citrus Preservation Commission, oversees maintenance, harvesting, and replanting efforts to ensure the groves remain healthy and economically viable.
The Redlands City Council approved the replanting of the Lugonia Grove on March 7, 2023, situated in the northeast corner of the city.
The approximately 18-acre grove has been underperforming, with a below-average annual profit of about $645.00 per acre, according to city officials. This led to a recommendation last year by the Citrus Preservation Commission to replant the grove.
On Tuesday night, City Council approved three contracts to remove the existing citrus trees, install a new irrigation system, and plant new orange trees.
The existing trees will be removed by Washburn Gove Management, Inc., using specialized equipment to grind and mulch existing trees in place. The method is considered the most efficient and environmentally preferred means of tree removal. It will help with the overall health of the grove soil.
Mariposa Landscapes, Inc. will install a new irrigation system and replant the grove. The 2,500 young Washington Navel Oranges will come through Gless Ranch Nursery.
The $227,700 project is funded through Nevada Palmetto Grove sale proceeds.
There were concerns over the optics of removing the grove and how to communicate the process to the community.
"It's going to seem like it's tearing at our hearts... It'll be very sad to see that grove go down but the good news is it's going to be replanted," said council member Mario Saucedo (District 3).
The City plans to conduct outreach to nearby neighborhoods and the community to explain the process.
Once planted, it will take about three years for the grove to mature.
Editor's note: this article originally appeared in a newsletter published on 03/10/2023