Growers in Northern Regions Whetting Consumer Appetites

Josh McGillCitrus, Production

Citrus production in North Florida, South Georgia and South Alabama continues to expand rapidly. That increased production led to a successful marketing year for producers, says grower Kim Jones, who owns a citrus packing facility in Monticello, Florida, and is part-owner of a similar facility in Tifton, Georgia.

“We’re selling every piece of fruit we pulled into both sheds this year,” Jones said. “I mean every piece of fruit.”

Citrus production

Every piece of fruit equated to about 4.5 million pounds in both facilities. Jones estimates that total will double in 2023.

“In the young Georgia groves, we’ll see this spike coming. 2023 is when we’ll really see this humungous, crazy increase,” said Jones, who attributes the market success to sales in northern cities that provided consumers a taste of what is to come.

“Our marketers were very carefully planning how to get this crop out this past year so that it would whet the appetite. We did it in crucial locations: Philadelphia, Chicago, real big markets but markets that do not have the chance to get fresh citrus. They really appreciate fresh citrus,” Jones said. “We’re getting it to them quick. It’s less than a week before it gets to the consumer, probably three days in some places. We’re tickled with the marketing.”

The spike in production is expected to skyrocket in two years. Production in the regions of South Georgia, South Alabama and North Florida is expected to net 60 million pounds by 2024, according to Jones.

“All of these young groves (3 and 4 years old) are still not producing,” he added. “All of a sudden, every one of them is going to come into play. That’s when we’re going to be concerned.”

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Clint Thompson

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