Georgia growers jump into mandarin citrus

08/01/2014 10:41:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

click image to zoomCourtesy University of GeorgiaJacob Price, a University of Georgia Extension Coordinator for Lowdnes County, checks out a young mandarin tree.A handful of south Georgia growers have embarked in a new crop they hope will produce sweet returns.

This spring, they planted satsuma mandarin oranges, known for their sweetness and ease of peeling, according to a news release.

Tree typically take three years to get into production.

One reason why mandarins were not too popular in Florida is they require cold temperatures to produce higher Brix levels.

But south Georgia, lying in hardiness zone 8b, may have just the right mix of cold temperatures to stimulate sweetness but not cold enough to cause damage.

Mandarins can take temperatures as low as 15 degrees Fahrenheit.

Jacob Price, University of Georgia Extension coordinator for Lowndes County, has held two meetings since last August to educate growers about the fruit's potential in south Georgia.

As a result, about 25 acres were planted and more are planned.

“There will probably be a lot more planted next spring because, basically, every available Satsuma plant in Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Louisiana, was purchased and planted this spring," Price said in a news release.

Many potential growers have placed orders to have more produced for the spring of 2015."

Market development in the next few years also will be important. Options include the state's school systems, farmers markets and local stores.

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