Fresh produce from Israel has all sorts of halachic concerns: Orla, Shemittah, Terumot and Maasrot.
Periodically, I come across fresh fruit imported from Israel. I generally avoid buying it, but I'd rather know where to find answers to all the questions than just avoid them.
The most recent issue: This time of year (March - April), Costco (in the US) carries Orri mandarins. Orri mandarins are grown locally here in Florida, but the ones at Costco are labelled "Product of Israel" and have no kashrut certification on the packaging.
Given that it's early April, just after a Shemittah year, the biggest question about these mandarins is whether they are from last year (the Shemittah year) or this year. Where can I find information about growing seasons?
I also wonder whether it's possible that they are Orla.
I have heard people claim that all produce exported from Israel is certified to have some minimal level of kashrut by the Rabbanut HaRashit. If this is true, what are the details?
To be clear, I am not asking for answers to halachic questions, i.e. what do to with Shemittah fruit. The information I need is about growing seasons, tree lifecycles, and about what role the Rabbanut plays is overseeing exported fresh produce that isn't explicitly certified kosher.
Ideally, the answer I'm looking for would list some resources that discuss the following topics:
- growing seasons in Israel for any given fruit or vegetable
- how long it takes any given type of tree to produce fruit that meet the typical quality standards for export.
- To what extent, if any, the Rabbanut oversees all produce exported from Israel.
UPDATE This article has thorough coverage of my exact question about Shemittah status: http://theshc.org/israeli-fruit-for-the-american-consumer/