A third packinghouse started packing fresh South Georgia and North Florida citrus in 2020. The newest packer, The Satsuma Company, is in Tifton, Georgia. The others, Corbett Brothers in Lake Park, Georgia, and Florida Georgia Citrus in Monticello, Florida, have been packing citrus since 2016.
“I have visited all three facilities in South Georgia and North Florida,” said Lindy Savelle, president of the Georgia Citrus Association. “They are all quite impressive. We should be sitting in a very good position next year to have plenty of packinghouses ready to receive Georgia-grown citrus fruit.”
Savelle said the bulk of South Georgia fruit production “will start next year as many of the groves will be in year 4 when the fruit is good and the production is worthy of spending money to get food safety inspected and harvested.” Most North Florida citrus groves are also only a few years old.
Kim Jones, owner of Florida Georgia Citrus and part-owner of The Satsuma Company, said projections are that 66 million pounds of fruit will be produced in 2024 in what he called “the cold-hardy citrus region.” That region encompasses South Georgia and North Florida.
He said Florida Georgia Citrus and The Satsuma Company “have capacity to handle a large portion of that crop.” Most of the packed fruit is sold through retailers in the Southeast and up the East Coast. “We look forward to assisting this emerging industry in its growth,” Jones said. “And growers like being able to diversify to a crop that shows some promise for the future.”
Jones said his companies “pack satsumas, navel oranges, Shiranui, Hamlins, lemons, Kishus, Sugar Belle, Early Pride, tangerines, mandarins and grapefruit.”
Justin and Jared Corbett own Corbett Brothers. “This is the next generation of Ken Corbett Farms,” said their father, Ken Corbett, who reported that the family grows citrus in Georgia and Florida. “We are currently packing satsumas, navel oranges, grapefruit, Shiranui, and Hamlin oranges,” he said. “We will have Sugar Belles and lemons in the future.” His company ships fruit to the eastern United States and Canada.
“We are very excited to be on the ground floor of this emerging industry,” Corbett added. “It is a great diversification for our farm and our customers.”
See the advice a peninsular Florida grower offered cold-hardy citrus growers last year.
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