The Cold Hardy Citrus Association (CHCA), founded in 2017, was established to ensure all growers, large and small, have a unified voice in an emerging industry and to provide education on best management practices in light of HLB.
CHCA members include growers, packers, processors, industry suppliers, nurseries, consultants, homeowners and academia representing Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.
Kim Jones is the current president of CHCA, elected in 2020. According to Jones, the contacts and expertise of former CHCA president Mark Glass helped get the association off to a solid start.
Jones has extensive involvement in the citrus industry as owner of Florida Georgia Citrus in Florida and part-owner of The Satsuma Company in Georgia. He also grows citrus in North Florida.
According to Jones, the annual CHCA conference has been very well attended with more than 100 participants each year, consisting of mostly growers and prospective growers. Due to COVID-19, the association was challenged with moving the 2020 conference to a virtual setting. However, CHCA received very positive feedback from vendors and participants alike.
Jones adds that the Cold Hardy Citrus Connection quarterly newsletter has quickly become a staple “go-to” source for information. It consists of articles from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) and University of Georgia researchers, with information on weather, pests and other issues growers are facing. The newsletter is coordinated by Danielle Sprague, Jefferson County UF/IFAS Extension agent.
CHCA recently received notification of a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to assist in marketing cold-hardy fruit. The two-year (2021-2022) funding will allow the association to have a unified marketing approach with fruit from the cold-hardy region.
“It’s been interesting and challenging but seeing the possibilities of a successful new alternative to traditional crops in this area is exciting,” Jones says. “We want to do all we can to build the industry on a solid foundation by producing high-quality products that the consumers are asking for.”
This article was written by Ashley Robinson, multimedia journalist for AgNet Media in Gainesville, Florida.