An official with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) recently visited some citrus growers in the Panhandle, north of the traditional Florida citrus belt. Callie Walker, chief of the FDACS Bureau of Pest Eradication and Control, shares her impressions of the fledgling industry.
“I was in Perry, Florida; we were looking at citrus production,” Walker said. “A lot of it up there is Satsuma (mandarin) production, but they are looking at other varietals — early varietals.” She said area citrus growers are looking at going into the school market and being in the early market. “Because of the cold issue, they can’t do a late varietal.”
Walker estimates there are about 300 acres of citrus in the Panhandle, with a maximum grove size of about 25 acres. Most of the citrus she saw was no more than 2 years old. She notes there is also some citrus production in Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana.
“They’re really excited about it,” Walker says. “It was good to see that much enthusiasm over trying to bring citrus back to the Panhandle.”
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