One Georgia grower sees citrus as an emerging industry in Georgia with huge potential. Justin Corbett even compares it to another popular crop that’s dominated the state’s fruit landscape.
“I think it has the potential to be a big industry. I compare it to blueberries 10 or 15 years ago. I just hope we don’t follow the same path they followed with imports affecting them now,” Corbett says.
Corbett is one of many growers in Georgia who are trying their hand in the citrus sector with satsumas. Satsumas are the most grown citrus in the state. Between 80% and 90% of Georgia citrus is satsuma oranges, according to Lindy Savelle, president of the Georgia Citrus Association.
Satsumas are cold tolerant. Once established, they can withstand temperatures as low as 15 degrees. This makes them an effective crop for Georgia citrus producers. Satsumas are also seedless and easy to peel.
“It’s definitely an emerging industry. We’re trying to build a brand with it and trying to get consumers aware of what a satsuma is. Once consumers try it, they love it,” says Corbett, whose trees have produced fruit for almost six years. He adds that it has been a challenge to get satsumas in to retail locations and different places, but where they are being sold, things have turned out well.
Along with marketing, another challenge that Corbett and other Georgia citrus growers face is late-season freeze events.
“We have been hit in the past where we would get a mid-March freeze and wind up losing some bloom and losing some yields,” Corbett says.