Fruit of the Land

Below is an early label for one of the main products of San Diego County agriculture, courtesy of the California Secretary of State’s Office and the U. S. National Archives:

C.C. Brandt applied to the California Secretary of State’s office for trademark rights to his lemon juice in April 1900. At that point lemons and their by-products had become a major cash crop for San Diego County farmers. Just a few months earlier, The San Diego Union had made “the lemon-growing industry” the focus of most of its edition of Sunday, October 22, 1899.

“The subject of lemons was the sole topic of discussion at a meeting of the San Diego Horticultural Society held in the chamber of commerce rooms in this city last Tuesday,” noted the Union. Six of the paper’s twelve pages were dominated by articles reporting on the meeting, which included addresses by local growers offering advice on growing and marketing lemons.

Unique soil and climate conditions had made San Diego “the center of the lemon industry in the United States,” according to the Union.

“In round numbers,” reported a separate Union article, “San Diego County has 500.000 lemon trees. Of these, one-fifth are now bearing, their product being 500 carloads or over for the present year.”

That’s railroad carloads they were talking about. Up to October, according to industry statistics, 401 carloads had been shipped to markets across the country. That was compared to 228 carloads just three years earlier.

“In no county in the United States has lemon-growing assumed the proportions it has reached in San Diego County, and nowhere can lemons be produced more successfully than here, the frostless belt of the bay region being peculiarly adapted to this fruit. The industry has a magnificent future.”

Just as an update, according to the latest crop report from the County of San Diego, in 2020, the latest year for which statistics are available, 73,295 tons of lemons were harvested, tops for all local citrus fruits.

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