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Citrus expert traveled Riverside County and beyond to help farmers – Press Enterprise

The success of California’s navel orange industry was well known around the world.

Places with similar climates wanted to replicate this success. One way to try to do this was to hire men who knew citrus growing to help in remote places around the world.

One of these men was Raymond E. Nebelung.

Nebelung was born in Anaheim in 1891 and graduated from the University of California College of Agriculture in 1914. After graduation, he returned to Anaheim, where public records indicate he engaged in agriculture before becoming assistant agricultural adviser in Los Angeles County in 1917. .

The following year, Nebelung became assistant agricultural adviser in Riverside County. Nebelung, single, moved into the Tetley Hotel in Riverside and began traveling throughout Riverside County providing support and advice to farmers in the county. The agricultural adviser and his assistant worked for Riverside County, but worked closely with the Riverside County Agricultural Office and the Riverside County Cooperative Extension. Today, Riverside County is still served by the Office of the County Commissioner of Agriculture, the nonprofit Riverside County Agricultural Office, and the University of California Cooperative Extension, which still support the agricultural production in the county, just as they did in 1918, when Nebelung became deputy agricultural adviser.

In January 1920, he was promoted to county agricultural adviser. Nebelung continued to visit and advise the 23 agricultural bureaus that had been established in Riverside County, as well as writing occasional articles on agriculture-related topics for local newspapers. He was apparently a well-liked individual, although he was far more likely to be mentioned in the Riverside newspapers as an agricultural adviser than in his personal life.

Then, in 1921, Nebelung was presented with opportunity and adventure, all rolled into one.

He accepted a position with the British government in the Union of South Africa, where he would work in its agricultural department as a citrus specialist. Nebelung resigned as agricultural adviser in August 1921 and set sail from New York for South Africa on 4 October. He arrived in South Africa on November 23, a 50-day sea voyage.

In February 1922, Nebelung wrote to the Riverside County Farm Bureau about what he had observed so far in South Africa. The letter was reproduced in full in the Riverside Enterprise. Nebelung said Cape Town was a pretty place and the Cape Peninsula, where she was located, had some of the best scenery in South Africa. After arriving in Cape Town, he had to travel 1,000 miles to the government center in Pretoria. The letter noted that farming was still practiced in South Africa by antiquated methods, such as ox-drawn ploughs.

Nebelung also mentioned in his letter that “traveling is not very pleasant here”. The trains were slow and not very clean, he said. The food on the trains was always the same, with mutton, fish, boiled potatoes and cabbage being the main items on the menu. Automobiles were almost non-existent, as they were all imported from the United States and very expensive. During his short stay in South Africa, Nebelung saw this region as full of opportunity, with considerable natural resources that had not yet been exploited.

It seems that Nebelung stayed in South Africa for about a year. He returned to the United States via India and China, including stops in Kenya and Zanzibar (now part of the country of Tanzania). He returned to Riverside, where he was employed by the Chamber of Commerce Citrus Committee and became a popular speaker at local club meetings, recounting his time in South Africa.

In 1926, Nebelung was hired as a land appraiser for the Federal Land Bank, before moving to its headquarters in Berkeley. The Federal Land Bank was and is a network of banks that provide long-term loans to farmers. He appears to have worked for this company for the rest of his career.

Nebelung married in 1931, but the marriage was brief and ended in divorce. He died in 1973 in Alameda County, having devoted his entire working life to helping farmers.

If you have an idea for a future Back in the Day column about a local historical person, place or event, contact Steve Lech and Kim Jarrell Johnson at [email protected]