Four Generations of Oranges
Heller Bros. Packing Corp.
Eight years ago, the Heller Brother’s production of oranges was 250 million boxes. However, this year they expect to produce only 54 million boxes due to Citrus Greening.
The Heller Bros. Packing Corp has been producing quality citrus crops for four generations and vice president, Alex Heller, is continuing the family business.
Brothers Isidore and Murray Heller started the business in 1911, along with their tomato company, Pacific Tomato Growers, which grow a variety of tomatoes along with strawberries. Since then, the label on all their produce has been easily distinguishable to the Winter Garden community as a local, historic staple. The Heller Bros. are known to grow Valencia oranges, Dark Red Grapefruits, Navel oranges, Orlando Tangelos, Honey bells and Sunburst Tangerines. However, a widespread disease is affecting some of their oranges.
A disease called Citrus Greening is destroying some of the companies’ crops. This disease exists worldwide, causing issues in the global orange/citrus industry. A little bug called an Asian citrus psyllid, which is native to southern Asia, is the reason why this is happening. It flies onto the leaves of citrus crops and infects them, killing the plant and resulting in significant economic losses to citrus farmers. It’s a serious issue and if scientists can’t find a cure, the production of oranges will continue to drop by twenty percent each year.
Vice President of Heller Bros., Alex Heller is continuing his family’s business.
Eight years ago, the Heller Brother’s production of oranges was 250 million boxes. However, this year they expect to produce only 54 million boxes due to Citrus Greening. But of course, with advanced science and technology there is hope for a cure. The University of Florida is working diligently to find a cure for Citrus Greening. One potential solution is to create an orange tree that will be resistant to the disease. This plan is currently in effect and data is being collected.
The Heller Bros. is a very seasoned company, but there are still many things that have stayed the same during the last fifty years. For example, they still pick their own fruit and work out of the same packinghouse as they did in 1940. Their process for packing has also stayed consistent throughout the years. Though many things are the same, The Heller Bros. has played a major role in giving our state its own unique identity.
Florida, also known as the Orange State has created tens of thousands of jobs with its orange industry, bringing in more income for the state as well as helping people provide for their families. Alex Heller describes his company as a, “tight-knit group” where you feel a “sense of comfort” around your colleagues. So, when you buy oranges from Heller Bros., know that you are not only shopping local but also experiencing a taste of history.