Pleasant Oaks Ranch Grows the Sweetest Oranges of All
Navel oranges from Ron Matik of Pleasant Oaks Ranch are grown free of pesticides and arrive at Sigona’s ready to eat.
By Robbie Sigona
As those of you with a citrus tree in your yard know, it’s California citrus season. While we carry citrus from California and elsewhere throughout the year, our customers always anticipate the arrival of Navel oranges from Pleasant Oaks Ranch (formerly Valley Cove Ranch) in Springville, Calif., a farming community which lies just beyond the outskirts of our 150 mile “what’s local” radius.
Pleasant Oaks Ranch Navel oranges are among some of the sweetest, most flavorful oranges we carry and what’s more is that Ron Matik, the new owner, grows them with absolutely no pesticides, just as former owner John Brinkman did for years and years.
While Pleasant Oaks Ranch oranges aren’t certified organic, they’re good enough to be. Ron uses no chemical sprays in his orchard and protects his precious trees from insect pests by bringing in beneficial predators like aphytis wasps and lacewings. He’s also much happier using good old-fashioned barnyard fertilizer instead of chemically-manufactured versions. As for irrigation water, Ron pumps in pure mountain water from the Tule River in the Sierra Nevada Foothills above California’s San Joaquin Valley.
It’s in the Sierra Foothills that oranges flourish. Mild winters and warm summers maximize the natural sweetness of the fruit. They also get extended “hang time” on the tree, which allows the fruit to reach its full flavor potential.
We’re happy to have continued our relationship with the ranch after John retired. We worked with John, who is now in his early 90s, for about 15 years before he retired this year, and Ron has continued on with the same attention and dedication to quality. It’s the small family business/farmer attitude that we share with Ron that we appreciate, where, at the end of the day, it’s not just about the numbers, it’s about the care and quality of products we provide to satisfy our customers.
To continuously offer top-quality produce, Pleasant Oaks Ranch citrus are only picked when perfectly tree-ripe…a secret that makes their intense sweetness even better. Tree-ripening also means the oranges are not intended for shipping across a long distance. Fortunately for us, that’s not a problem since we are so close to Ron’s orchard, and Ron’s crew pick & pack each orange by hand, which also helps prevent bruising during transit to our store. At no point are they dyed, gassed or treated with chemical preservatives in any way.
Compare that to large agribusiness. Many larger growers must pick their oranges a bit green to keep them stable for shipping over thousands of miles. Their citrus are picked immature and gassed with ethylene gas, which gives them a kind of yellowy color – but they never turn deep orange because they didn’t ripen on the tree. And, as you may guess, that means their flavor and sugar is off.
What’s more is that Ron does not pick and store any Navels to ship out to in the event of rain. If it’s raining, Ron postpones harvest to ensure quality and fresh deliveries to his customers.
Pleasant Oaks Ranch Navel oranges arrive ready to eat. With an easy-peel rind and a seedless interior, the Ron’s California Naval orange is considered the best orange for eating out of hand. Naval oranges are one of the market’s top sellers, and we have customers who come by every winter because they know we offer fantastically sweet, pesticide-free navels at a great price.
Whether you eat them plain, juice them, toss the segments in a salad, such as a Winter Citrus Salad with a Navel Orange & Blue Cheese Vinaigrette, or even poach them, seek out these pesticide-free oranges from Sigona’s. They’re simply some of the sweetest, juiciest oranges around, sweetened even more by their environmentally-friendly growing methods.