Sweet Life Presents Texas Talent ~ Carl de Kock from Rio Queen~ Mission, Texas

Happy Monday, we are up and running again.  The cold weather gifted the Rio Grande Valley  almost a day and half with out electricity.  We adjusted quickly, with no complaints as we know other areas were severely affected. I send sweet thanks you to all who asked how we were and sent us well wishes.  We continue with our Texas Talent in a short tour of Rio Queen with our host Carl de Kock,  Enjoy!


Fun Fact from Carl : Did you know the name grapefruits gives homage to the likeness that they grow in clusters like grapes. Thanks Carl

After chatting with Terry she asked if I would like a tour of the Rio Queen, the packing house where the grapefruits are selected for Red Cooper.  Of course I agreed having spied the huge building as I drove in earlier that day.  She assured me this tour would surprise me, as she says it is a pretty remarkable sight.  As I entered the facility I was hit with an intense fragrance of the citrus.  The building seem to embrace the smell of freshly picked citrus, I felt as if I was standing next to a living, breathing citrus tree.  Terry chuckled as I turned to give her the look of disbelief, the place was..well it was HUGE!

Our tour guide, Carl.  Carl was the perfect host, his pride for local citrus was evident as he thoroughly explained each step of the process from beginning to end.  As we walked to the plant he gazed down at my shoes to make sure I was safely able to trek up and down the numerous steps that lead to each level.  ( I was fine, I was proudly rocking my grey converse.)  As he walked us through Rio Queen Carl’s knowledge was apparent. He enjoyed his job, the people and he was excited to share his experience. I send you thanks Carl for allowing me to visit.  Your dedication gave me opportunity to witness first hand the time, hours, love and people who provide the Rio Grande Valley the citrus we all cherish.  I look forward to chatting with you again.

Rio Queen : 

For over 39 years, Rio Queen Citrus, Inc. has been growing, packing and marketing citrus. This third generation, family-owned business has grown into one of the leading shippers of citrus and produce in South Texas with wholesale trade business spreading across the U.S. and Europe.


Over the years, the company has expanded its initial operation from a 20 acre citrus grove in Mission, Texas to the present day management of over 5,000 acres of citrus and 1,150 acres of onions across the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. Rio Queen Citrus, Inc. is the largest citrus grower in Texas and the largest grower and shipper of onions in Texas.

from the Rio Queen website


When the grapefruits first arrive they are washed, sorted for leaves, branches or bruised fruit.  The grapefruits are picked daily form the trees, by hand and trucked to the facility.  The facility can process 40 truck loads of grapefruit a day, all in their 270,000 square foot warehouse.

The grapefruit is then sent to sort into grades.  Can you believe some grapefruit can weigh up to 1lb each? See the conveyor belt on the side?  The bruised fruit is sent on this belt for juicing, no waste.

The grapefruits are quickly scanned using this high tech optical computer for sorting into grades, size and color.   Karl let me take a quick peek at the computers in a small room to the side where plant workers observe the grapefruits.

The citrus is dropped into bins, by size, shape and color.

The bins of citrus are looked over again, this time by women, quality control both human and machine.  The citrus placed on the belt is sent to juice.

Ever wonder where the little sticker on your fruit at the store comes from, here is is..the grapefruits are labeled, ready for delivery to local  grocery stores.

After labeled the grapefruits are placed in bins, ready to be placed in boxes or bags.  This complete process takes only minutes.  The organization was clear,  everyone moved with a confident rhythm.

The grapefruits are boxed for delivery , these women are fast, really fast. They packed the grapefruits stragetically not allowing the grapefruit a chance for bruising.

Here the grapefruits are bagged for consumers.  The Rio Grandeyou will find these bags at your local store, roadside fruit stands and even at the local flea markets.  The  18lb bag is my favorite purchase of the season, in peak time they are sold for $6.00.  We enjoy them freshly squeezed each morning, as a afternoon snack or baked into a sweet treat.

Fun Fact from Carl :  Did you know that the petiole of the grapefruit gives the resemblances of a heart?   The petiole is the smallest leaf closest to the stem.  Terry holds the leaf as I snap a picture.

I hope you enjoyed this quick tour of the Rio Queen plant located in Mission, Texas.  Please help us celebrate National Grapefruit Month by stopping by for wonderful grapefruit recipe throughout the month.   Don’t for get about my giveaway: a chance for you to taste wonderful Texas grapefruits. Click here  Sweet Life



  1. says

    I love your new header and new look. I had no idea there was that kind of problem in Texas. We usually hear about all US disasters in Canada, but am so glad you are fine and well. What a fantastic post. I loved seeing the fruit on the trees. Did you go to the big Citrus Event David Lebovitz was at? He just blogged about his time in Texas and it was fantastic. I saw citrus I have never seen. Do you have all that there on a regular basis?

  2. says

    I’m glad things are returning to normal for you. The post was wonderful with gorgeous photos and great information. I hope you have a great evening. Blessings…Mary

  3. says

    Awesome post! Making me feel Texas proud! I love sharing grapefruit with everyone who visits me from up north – they always say they had no idea how good grapefruit could be!

  4. says

    Wow…great colorful and cheery header…very inviting Ms. Texas proud ;o)

    Really enjoyed your tour…it’s always interesting to peek in on the insides of these dedicated companies.

    Glad to read that you made it decently well through the unfortunate black-out.

    Ciao my friend, keep yourself well,

  5. says

    Being without electricity is one of the hardest things to adjust to. The boredom during the evenings is torture! Great to know you guys are okay. :)

    I haven’t had any grapefruit for about 20 years now. I remember it as being quite sour and have never liked them.


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