North Florida and south Georgia citrus growers now have opportunities to diversify their crops and expand their season with cold-tolerant citrus varieties.
Peter Andersen, a professor of horticulture at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences North Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy, said satsumas make up a majority of the citrus industry in the area.
He said the three-week market window for satsumas is an issue when there is a possibility of a market from September to December.
“Although satsumas are the most cold-hardy of all … commercial citrus, we have a lot of other opportunities for growers to try and extend their season,” Andersen said.
Other varieties of citrus are now available to help growers diversify their crops. These can help extend the growing season, as well as provide resistance to some of the critical diseases growers face.
Sugar Belle®, a variety released by University of Florida, has benefits that can help growers in the market. In addition to a desirable market window, Andersen said this variety does not show symptoms of citrus greening as much as other varieties do. This characteristic can help growers in a time when citrus greening is one of the most difficult challenges in the industry.
Andersen said Sugar Belle® crops have shown disease resistance to citrus scab, making this variety stand out against many others that have a high level of susceptibility to this disease.
Andersen provided information about different varieties and possibilities for growers at the Cold Tolerant Citrus Production for the Southeastern Coastal Plain event in December 2017.
To learn more about satsumas and other cold-tolerant citrus varieties, visit this website on the upcoming 2018 Panhandle Satsuma Workshop on Feb. 27. Andersen is scheduled to speak about varieties at this event.
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