By Art Huseonica
The Sun City Prides have been busy gleaning oranges from the medians along Sun City streets.
Originally planted along all the Sun City boulevards during construction of each phase in the 1960s and 1970s, the orange trees are of the sour variety, best only for marmalade. This variety was chosen because after Del Webb Development Company representatives met with local citrus growers, it was decided not to plant any varieties of citrus that would compete with the growers.
Tree trunks were painted white to protect the tree’s thin bark from getting sunburned. Orange trees grow naturally as a shrub, not requiring any paint if left to grow naturally. Any water-based paint will suffice. Many homeowners in Sun City are transitioning to the brown or more natural-colored paint.
Gleaning or picking oranges from the trees is an annual project for the PRIDES. However, due to the restrictions placed on citrus harvesting, the oranges are bagged and then picked up by the Maricopa County Department of Transportation for disposal.
The PRIDES, in corporation with MCDOT, are slowly removing orange trees to reduce the need for gleaning and reduce water consumption. In their place, drought-tolerant trees, such as pistache, elm and oak are being planted. PRIDES Beautification Committee Chairman Mike Will is working closing with Linden Tree Nursery co-owner Mark Scaife to ensure this transition goes smoothly.
To become a member of the Sun City PRIDES or to get more information, visit www.suncityprides.com.