Seeing Success With Louisiana Citrus Grown Indoors

Josh McGillLouisiana

A three-year Louisiana State University Agricultural Center (LSU AgCenter) study is investigating the pros and cons of growing citrus inside or in containers.

Satsuma trees planted the week before Hurricane Ida last year are yielding their first crop. (Photo by Johnny Morgan, LSU AgCenter)

“So far, we are finding that the pros are outnumbering cons,” said Anna Timmerman, LSU AgCenter horticulture agent in St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes.

Early results of Timmerman’s research show that growing citrus indoors produces a high-quality fruit with fewer insect problems and other negative environmental issues. Timmerman said she planted satsumas the week before Hurricane Ida in 2021. The citrus production study is being conducted at the Center for Louisiana Citrus Innovation and Research at the Docville Farm in Violet.

The benefits of growing indoors are lower water and fertilizer requirements, high-density planting, less root rot, no saltwater intrusion and better-quality fruit, Timmerman said. The major issue she is having indoors right now is puffy fruit, which is edible and delicious, but the appearance is not very pleasing.

Timmerman said the citrus growers have what looks to be a good crop, despite the issues they are almost constantly facing.

In other parts of the growing region, the crop is also looking good this year, even though some of the fruit is still green, said Barton Joffrion, AgCenter horticulture agent in Terrebonne Parish.

Growing citrus outdoors has presented numerous problems for South Louisiana’s commercial citrus growers, whose numbers are dwindling. A major problem is saltwater intrusion, which has made growing citrus in some areas all but impossible. For several years, growers have been fighting what they say seems like a losing battle trying to slow the flow of saltwater that’s creeping in under their citrus groves. The saltwater spells death for many fruit and vegetable crops.

Add hurricanes, insect and disease pressure, and freezing temperatures, and citrus growers are constantly in a fight to protect their crop.

The number of growers is also declining due to farmers getting older, said Joffrion. “The development of subdivisions on some of the best land is the reason a lot of the bigger producers are gone now,” he said.

Source: LSU AgCenter

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