Exciting Time for Georgia Citrus Industry

Josh McGillGeorgia

The young, burgeoning Georgia citrus industry has its sights set on a bright future. Even in the midst of a challenging winter season with two major freeze events, the industry continues its upward trend, believes Lindy Savelle, president of the Georgia Citrus Association.

She discussed the state of the Georgia citrus industry during the association’s annual meeting on Feb. 28 in Tifton.

“It’s very exciting. That’s why we named the agenda this year, “A Roadmap to Georgia’s Citrus Industry.” We feel like we’ve started on this journey,” Savelle said. “October 2016 was when the Georgia Citrus Association was formed, so this is seven years later. “We’ve now got the University of Georgia on board with asking for specific citrus positions and looking at a budwood program. Of course, we’ve got Georgia Department of Ag representation here. It shows support for the industry. We believe it’s here to stay.”

The University of Georgia is requesting $1.5 million from the state legislature to fund multiple faculty positions. One of the positions would be a citrus breeder who would establish a research program to develop new cultivars for Georgia’s industry. Another would be an Extension specialist who would focus on research pertaining to variety testing, rootstock evaluation, fertility and irrigation requirements. Other positions would include roles researching citrus and other fruit crops. These positions include a postharvest physiologist and sustainable production horticulture Extension specialist.

These industry advancements are in addition to the recent first step taken to form a Georgia Citrus Commission, which would allow the industry to fund its own research and marketing.

“Everything is pointing forward for the citrus industry in Georgia. It’s all positive, and people now recognize that citrus is an actual commodity,” Savelle said.

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Clint Thompson

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