By Clint Thompson
The Spring Citrus Update, scheduled for March 31 in Valdosta, Georgia, has been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Jake Price, University of Georgia Extension Coordinator for Lowndes County, confirmed that the meeting was called off with no plans of when it will be rescheduled.
The meeting was expected to draw a huge contingent of interested producers in South Georgia, which has been the case ever since Price held his first meeting in 2013 to gauge farmers’ interest in producing the crop.
Citrus is growing in popularity in the South Georgia region. It is estimated there will be close to 2,000 acres, or 200,000 trees of citrus, that is grown in Georgia by the end of 2020.
“That’s kind of what I projected, by calling nurseries to see what they were selling to Georgia and add it to last year’s total. I think I got about 1,834 (acres) that I know of. I’m sure there’s others out there that I don’t know of. You could say close to 2,000, I think that would be fair,” Price said.
More acreage will be producing fruit in the next few years as well. According to Lindy Savelle, Georgia Citrus Association President, there will be approximately 50 million pounds of citrus coming out of Georgia in 2023.
“I would say of the acreage out there, we probably had 12% in production last year and seems like I figured 16% will be four-years-old, which kind of to me is when you start producing,” Price said. “I’d say 16% this year will probably be producing, which means 84%, if they didn’t plant anything else, that still hasn’t even come online yet.”
So far, citrus growers have benefitted this year from ideal weather conditions, barring any late season freeze events.
“So far, everything’s worked out pretty good,” Price said. “We’re kind of scared of those freezes and frosts in March, but it doesn’t look like we’ve got anything coming down the pipe. Looks like from what I can see the blooms will come out, and hopefully, not be bothered by cold weather.”
Citrus is currently grown in 39 counties in Georgia. The bulk of the fruit, 80% to 85%, being produced is satsuma oranges. Satsumas are a cold-tolerant citrus. Once established, they can withstand temperatures as low as 15 degrees. They’re also seedless and easy to peel.
Get more information about citrus production in Georgia.