Morehouse Parish's farming-friendly land and climate is evidenced in the variety of common crops like rice, soybeans and cotton. Every once and awhile its adaptability is reminded by producing an unusual or unexpected fruit.
Morehouse Parish's farming-friendly land and climate is evidenced in the variety of common crops like rice, soybeans and cotton. Every once and awhile its adaptability is reminded by producing an unusual or unexpected fruit. Stephen Little, who lives in the parish, has an orange tree in his backyard that his mother got from south Louisiana and planted here several years ago. Last week he used a rake to pull down more than a barrel full of oranges from the 20-foot tall tree that's six feet in diameter. Shade from a neighboring pecan tree, Little said, prevented the tree from producing even more fruit. “It's remarkable,” Little said, “and the fruit tastes as sweet as candy.” LSU AgCenter Agent Terry Erwin said Little's oranges are representative of how Mother Nature will surprise the experts now and again. “You might see an orange or lemon tree sporadically through all of North Louisiana and usually out in the wild,” Erwin said. “They are normally bitter, but edible and are generally spread by birds.” Little's tree is a trifoliate species that was transplanted to the state years ago from China. It's been grafted with native trees and can withstand a low level of winter temperatures. Its branches have thorns as sharp as a rose bush, and its seeds are prodigious, Erwin said, and they make for excellent barrier hedge. While Little said the tree has produced a low level amount of oranges every year, this year weather conditions assuaged an abundant amount. He wants to explore the idea of adding more trees and sell the fruit at the local Farmer's Market. “It's hard to believe that we can grow oranges right here, but here's the proof,” he said.