Citrus acreage is expanding across South Georgia and North Florida. But those interested in planting more acres may have to wait years to receive trees from nurseries, says Jake Price, University of Georgia Lowndes County Extension coordinator.
“If you’re wanting a tree now, it’s probably going to be 2023. If you had ordered it six months ago, it might have been 2022,” said Price, who was instrumental in getting citrus production started in Georgia. “Folks were supposed to get plants in April or May. If it’s going to be October or November, you might as well wait until the next year.”
Citrus producer Kim Jones can attest to the delay. “I’ve got 2,000 trees I can’t get. They won’t be here until next April,” Jones says. “I ordered them in 2019 and won’t get them until next year.”
There are a couple of factors that have led to the delay in nursery trees getting to customers in a timely manner. One of the reasons is COVID-19. Its impact from March 2020 to to the present has slowed production considerably.
“I know one nursery where all the people that worked there caught COVID,” Price said. “It probably ended up pushing them back a year.”
Another factor is producers getting the rootstocks they desire, which takes time.
“It just takes a couple of years to get a tree, really. If you don’t have the rootstock, you’ve got to plant the rootstock. You’ve got to grow it. Then you’ve got to graft on to it and then grow that out. It could take two years,” Price said. “Florida can do it quicker than we (Georgia) can because they have a longer growing season. They don’t deal as much with satsumas as we do. We’re trying to get people to plant other things too, besides satsumas.”