Some long-time farmers in the Hastings area plan to develop more than 100 acres of tangerines over the next four to five years. Gary England, University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences regional specialized Extension agent and director of the Hastings Agricultural Extension Center, discusses their plans.
He says the farmers, whom he declined to name, are “looking strictly at tangerines, fresh fruit, early fruit.”
The citrus planting will be the largest in modern history in the Hastings area, but England points out that the area has a citrus history “going back to the mid-1800s. A lot of citrus was grown right along the St. Johns River and shipped out on boats for distribution up north. It’s been a while since we’ve had a major citrus industry up there, but there’s some potential for probably some fresh fruit development in the area.”
Although Hastings is north of the modern citrus belt, England says large nearby water bodies offer some cold protection. “The St. Johns River lies to the Northwest,” he says. “It’s very wide at that point. So it does give us a little bit of natural freeze protection. Also, we’re not that far from the Atlantic (Ocean). St. Augustine’s 15 miles to the northeast. So we’ll probably get a little help from the Atlantic.”
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