Citrus producers in the Sweet Valley Citrus region are about a week or two ahead of schedule this season. The area consists of a tri-state zone in North Florida, South Alabama and South Georgia. Grower Kim Jones attributes the accelerated harvest this year to the cooler temperatures the region received during October.
Jones, president of the Cold Hardy Citrus Association, said about a month of morning temperatures in the low 50s prepared trees to color up.
“I think we’re right where we need to be,” he said. “We’d like to get in a little earlier than we did last year and the year before. This will enable us to get some fruit out there on the shelves where it needs to be.”
Jones spoke during the recent Cold-Hardy Citrus Field Day at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences North Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy. He emphasized to the grower attendees the importance of ensuring their fruit is fully mature before harvesting it.
Since Sweet Valley Citrus is a new brand name, Jones believes this is the most important year for establishing the brand’s reputation. “The consumer has to buy it the first time and the second time,” he said. “If we give them bad fruit, we’re not going to get a second purchase. We need to have the right brix:acid ratio at a minimum of 10:1. But we’re seeing some 12:1 to 13:1 ratios right now … It’s very good fruit.”