Sunday, February 15, 2015

The First Tree Was Planted in 1927


On February 22, 1927, Floyd L. Wray proudly planted the first tree at Flamingo Groves.


When Wray first came to Florida, he sold real estate for Homeseekers, one of Joseph W. Young's companies.  He noticed the shortage of oranges during the summer and the high prices.  He saw the late summer-maturing Lue Gim Gong Valencia oranges, developed by a botanist in central Florida, as a new opportunity.  The fruit could be harvested when the other varieties were out of season.

He bought 320 acres inexpensively in the drained Everglades west of Davie from Frank and Mittie Chaplin.  Flamingo Groves was incorporated in January of 1927.  Floyd L. Wray was President, Frank Stirling Vice President, and Jane Wray was Secretary-Treasurer.  With the help of Frank Stirling, a member of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Florida State Plant Board, a bare field soon became citrus as far as the eye could see. 

Not a pretty picture. This is what the plowed land surrounding the oak hammock looked like in 1927.  The area was already drained by canals built in 1906 by Florida Governor Napoleon Bonaparte Broward.  The soil was rich and, with time, a lush grove of citrus would replace the bare landscape.








The first trees were planted in tight rows and would be replanted later. 






Young 5-6 foot trees are pruned by 1/3 and then dug up. The soil is washed off the roots again.  The trees are packed in a bundle and sent to the banting crew.






The banting crew replanted the trees over 40 acres with plenty of room to grow to maturity.  Robert Wood, shows a young tree in the planted grove.
 







Frank Stirling and Robert Wood stand behind a small healthy, growing tree. 

  





It takes years for the trees to mature and bear fruit.





As the first trees grew, others were started and replanted.  More varieties of citrus were included in the expanding grove.

To raise funds during the depression, Wray offered 5-acre parcels for sale with a five-year contract.  Flamingo Groves would care for the trees.  After five years, buyers had the option to return the land at a previously specified price or receive the profits for sale of the fruit. 
 


By 1936, 470 acres were planted with a variety of citrus and fruit trees such as papaya.  At its height, Flamingo Groves covered 2,000 acres, about three-square miles, and grew almost 80 varieties of citrus.

Today, unfortunately, there are few citrus trees left anywhere in Broward County, due to hurricanes, and rapidly spreading diseases like canker and citrus greening.  Flamingo Gardens today has a few citrus trees, but most have been replaced by mangos and other varieties of fruit.

7 comments:

  1. Great post, I think you have covered it pretty well.I really enjoyed reading your article. I found this as an informative and interesting post.

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  2. I know that this post will document my move to note the affinity I have for the Flamingo Bird.

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  3. Ah! What a beautiful idea. This is the way our mind desires. We can think a lot of these in our blog as well. Thank you for promoting tips and wonderful inspirations!

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  5. Didn't Floyd Wray have a kind of citrus lab on the property, and do some experimenting with hybrids and such? In recent years I never hear about this, but in the old days it was mentioned during tours of the property and I had the idea he was a pioneer in citrus breeding.

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    1. You are correct. At first they planted only Lue Gim Gong summer oranges. Then they created a 20 acre citrus laboratory/nursery to test plant other varieties of citrus and other tropical fruit. Some came from the University of Florida's Citrus Experimental Station in Lake Alfred, Florida and results were reported. The laboratory/nursery stretched from the present day main parking lot to the service entrance (rear gate and mailboxes). It also included a small parcel of less than an acre immediately east of the BBQ Pavilion. Fertilization experiments were conducted in conjunction with the Florida State Fertilizer Institute, the Belle Glade Experiment Station of the University of Florida, and the Florida State Experiment Station. They proved the muck soil of the Everglades produced superior fruit with a minimum of fertilization. The soil was rich in most respects, but if deficient in certain elements, the fruit of older trees might be affected. At its peak, Floyd L. Wray boasted that Flamingo Groves had more than 65 varieties of citrus and other tropical fruit.

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