Similarly, there are only three main types of oranges in Taiwan, namely, 桶柑, 椪柑, and 柳丁. And again, street names of local sub-varieties are countless, everyone has a poetic license. The most practical classification is straightforward, the Taiwanese do it by assessing how oranges are readied: easily peeled with fingers are 橘； need a knife to cut into wedges, 橙; and in-between or either way, 柑.
|A Tankan grove in Beitou|
The exact reason why they are called bucket oranges is uncertain. A commonly accepted version is that in the past, mid-sized wooden 桶buckets/barrels were used to store and transport the fruits from China to Taiwan. However, other than the transient function as containers, the intended purpose(s) of the buckets and why they were chosen are still anybody's guess.
|Normally yellow, this green Ponkan variety is from Tainan|
China remains the world's largest producer of Ponkan today. And Ponkan in Japan actually originated in Taiwan. It was introduced in 1896 into southern Kyushu prefectures, in Kagoshima, Miyazaki, and Kumamoto. The better-known varieties were 太田 and 興村, although now seem to be lumped together with Mikan (蜜柑).
In 1987 in Taiwan, the cultivation area was 14,000 hectares producing 170,000 tons; however, in 2011, it was down to 6,096 hectares with 140,000 ton production. This decline seems to be still continuing although stabilizing at the same time, most likely a supply and demand adjustment.
In 1988, the cultivation area was 16,265 hectares, producing 230,000 tons. This was a bit too much for the market to absorb, so the prices dropped like a stone, and the surplus was consumed mostly as fresh juice, dispensed of the costly packaging. In fact, freshly squeezed 柳丁 juice is still the orange juice of choice in Taiwan today. In 2011, the production decreased to 5,904 hectares and 170,000 tons, more in line with the demand.
|In 2009, in a show of support of Liuding farmers, then facing bankruptcy,|
the Yunlin County Government sponsored fresh juice-drinking for 80,000 pupils
Factoids: (1) An orangy rumor has been going around for the longest time, in that “Sunkist” was actually from 辰溪 in Hunan Province, China, brought back to the US by missionaries about 100 years ago. And the evidence? Well, 辰溪 is pronounced almost the same as Sunkist, isn't it? Sunkist Co-op itself, however, maintains that theirs came from Brazil in 1870; 3 navel orange seedlings that got things started in Riverside, California (the etymological origin of Sunkist is, however, unclear). (2) The first known introduction of Ponkan into the US was in 1892 or 1893 when an American medical missionary in China sent fruits to JC Barrington of McMeekin, Florida, from which seedlings were grown. It now appears that (1) might have evolved from (2).
*黃龍病Huanglongbing: A deadly bacterial infection that affected all types of oranges in Taiwan. This bacterium is hosted by 木蝨woodlouse, an insect that can be controlled by deploying its natural enemy, the 亮腹釉小蜂eulophid wasp, without the need for insecticides.