Mini History Lesson: How the Ruby Red Grapefruit Gave Us the Rio Red

How did we get a grapefruit as sweet and as beautifully red as the Rio Red grapefruit? Well, first check out the history of the Ruby Red grapefruit here!

If you've ever taken a bite of the juicy, sweet, and packed with nutrients Rio Red grapefruit, you're probably hooked. Where did this bright red, sweet sensation come from?

The Rio Red is a result of a breeding program in Texas. Its origins are from a bud sport of a tree produced from a Ruby grapefruit seedling.

Therefore, to understand how the Rio Red came to be, we need to dive into the story of the humble Ruby Red grapefruit. Keep reading for a mini-history guide on these delicious red grapefruit varieties.

Ruby Red Grapefruit Origin 

American's weren't too impressed with the sour white and pink grapefruits that had landed on US soil in the 1800s.

Even though the climate in Florida and South Texas was perfect for producing gorgeous orchards of grapefruit, they were simply not sweet enough for the locals.

However, in 1929, in a small orchard in South Texas, a beautiful grapefruit mutation was discovered by a citrus grower. It had deep red flesh and was considerably sweeter.

And so the Ruby Red came into the world and within five years the Texas grapefruit industry burst to life, focusing solely on the red grapefruit and discarding the pink and white varieties. 

How Did the Red Grapefruit Variety Just Pop Up?

It seems like an unusual spot of good luck that a sweet red-fleshed grapefruit variety would just pop up on a pink grapefruit tree one day.

However, most citrus fruits, especially grapefruit, have fragile genomes and are prone to natural and completely spontaneous mutations.

Sometimes, a cell that is intended to form a branch will start mutating and dividing. The bud sport is the branch that is created by the mutated cells and is genetically different from the rest of the tree on which it grows.

If you happen upon a bud sport that has produced a new and interesting variety of fruit, you can make a tree by grafting the bud sport onto a host tree.

From Ruby Red to Rio Red Grapefruit 

The Ruby Red grapefruit changed the way American's thought about this citrus fruit. It became hugely popular and it became a dedicated task of farmers and scientists to try to breed even sweeter, even redder varieties of the treasured Ruby Red.

The Rio Red has its origins as a bud sport on a Ruby Red tree in 1985 in Texas. It has become popular as the sweetest grapefruit and has given rise to the Rio Star varieties that combine Ruby Star and Rio Red varieties. It is 7 to 10 times redder than the Ruby Red.

For the Love of Grapefruit

The accidental natural mutation and lucky findings of the Ruby Red grapefruit is responsible for booming the Texas citrus industry and creating a global love of grapefruit. It is the source of amazing varieties such as the much loved Rio Red. 


Try our seasonal citrus box while its available...the Craft Citrus Club!

Our Rio box is a 15-lb curated box of our fresh-harvested citrus from South Texas. The fruit is NOT gassed, rather it is tree-ripened. Our season runs from Nov-May for oranges, grapefruit and mandarins.

Our Grande box is a 30-lb box of either fresh-harvested Rio Red Grapefruit or Sweet Oranges from South Texas.


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