I have been patiently waiting for Valencia oranges to show up in markets here. For months all I have seen are “Lane-late” navel oranges. My patience has been rewarded. I bought a 4 kg bag of “naranjas para zumo” for 3,19 € (about $0.50 USD a pound) labeled “Valencia-late”. Sure enough, when I cut one in half in order to juice it, there were seeds. So indeed I had purchased Valencias from Valencía.
Recently when I was in California I tried looking for Valencias as well. All I seem to find was navels. And I couldn’t determine the variety, but the ones my son bought were definitely not “Lane-late” owing to their thick skin.
Curiously, Valencia oranges are not native to Valencía. The Valencia Orange was created by the Californian agronomist William Wolfskill, on his farm in Santa Ana. Cultivation of the Valencia in Orange County had all but ceased by the mid-1990s due to rising property costs, which drove most of the orange industry into Florida.
When I was kid, 50+ years ago, I remember seeing the orange groves on both sides of the two-lane US 101 highway (now I-5) through Orange County. The urban sprawl started at Santa Ana. Now there are almost continuous cities from Tijuana past Ventura, except for Camp Pendleton.
Valencias are primarily grown for processing and juice production. Worldwide, Valencia oranges are the only variety of orange in season during summer. I made a glass of fresh juice and it is slightly more sweet and flavorful than navels.