Citrus voice regains place
A traditional and historic magazine with news specifically for members of the citrus industry has returned to publication after a nine-year hiatus.
The magazine Citrograph began publishing again in April, sponsored by the Citrus Research Board in Visalia. It discontinued publication in 2001 after 85 years of bringing news and information about research, marketing, industry growth and cultural topics to growers and others in the citrus industry.
Citrograph began publication in 1915 as a communications channel to its growers by the dominant industry cooperative, Sunkist Growers. At that time, the citrus industry in California was mostly south of the Tehachapi Mountains. Citrus orchards prevailed in many Southern California locations now crisscrossed by freeways.
The wide appeal and tangy goodness of citrus fruit from California, much of it seedless, was not to be discouraged by burgeoning populations in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and Ventura counties. The vast spaces of Kern, Tulare and Fresno counties beckoned, and acreage expanded — doubled — by the last half of the 20th century. Citrograph reported it each step of the way.
For most of its life, the magazine was practically a communications arm of the Citrus Research Center at the University of California, Riverside. It consistently carried research papers produced by members of the staff there dealing with citrus pests and disease and their control, investigation of rootstocks to support new and improved varieties, and reports on the packing, handling and shipping of the fruit to market.
Other farm publications circulated in the wide-ranging California market, some of them reporting occasionally on matters of importance in the citrus industry. But the unchallenged authority for reporting those matters consistently and in full detail rested in the monthly Citrograph.
Often more of a scientific journal in appearance and scope than a pictorial slice of citrus life, it was a "keeper" for growers, many of whom retained every issue on a corner shelf of a home office, where it was always available for reference.
Citrus nurserymen consistently advertised the availability of their trees in Citrograph's pages. Suppliers of specialized equipment for the citrus industry such as sprayers, wind machines for frost protection (smudge pots in the early days) and harvest, handling and packing machinery advertised consistently in the magazine. So did the companies that supplied the agricultural chemicals that control weeds, insects and disease in orchards north and south.
Ownership transferred from Sunkist to a series of owners. The Greene family was prominent among them for many years in mid-century. By the late 1960s, Lewis (Robbie) Robison had taken over as owner/editor. An accomplished agricultural editor and writer familiar with the citrus industry from researcher through grower, his wide knowledge of the industry and acquaintance with its personnel made the work of publishing not much harder than breathing.
Later, pondering retirement, Robison sold the publication in 1994 to Western Agricultural Publishing Co. in Fresno, where it remained until 2001, when publication was suspended. To claim ownership, the Citrus Research Board found that the name of the magazine had been legally abandoned.
The board arranged to prepare editorial material for each issue and agreed with Farm Progress Companies (publisher of California Farmer magazine) to perform advertising sales and other publishing responsibilities.
"I am incredibly excited about having the publication as a complete package to offer our members," said Ted Batkin, president of the Citrus Research Board in Visalia. "Articles will be of wide interest; something of an applied nature will appear in every issue." The board will forego the annual report it has published for years, inserting the information it contained into the magazine.
Now published every other month in a brightly colorful and carefully structured format, the magazine is once again occupying its place as an essential part of California's vital citrus industry. Welcome back.
CONTACT Don Curlee at email@example.com