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Citrus at war


Florida Citrus Exchange. "History of Florida Citrus Commission." Citrus Magazine. 4 no. 11 (May 1944): 1.

Finding labor to work in citrus groves has always been a point of contention in the industry. In the early years, when groves were large enough, black and immigrant labor supplied groves with cheap, plentiful, and most importantly, migratory labor. During WW II, all available labor was employed in factories supporting the war effort or had been drafted into military service. However, the U.S. Army housed approximately 10,000 German prisoners of war in rural Florida camps, where they were employed mostly as agricultural labor, which included the picking, juicing, and packing of citrus. The trend of growers utilizing migratory workers continues to this day, as most of the citrus pickers are low-paid Hispanic laborers.

The citrus industry touted itself as essential for the war effort, but all of its canned and concentrated products were too impractical and unpalatable to play a role at the front.  Tasty orange juice concentrate would not be available until 1948, well after the war ended.  But the advent of concentrated juice became a boon in the postwar economy.