Satsuma History Worldwide and in Georgia

Daniel CooperGeorgia, History, Mandarins


A recent University of Georgia (UGA) Extension publication summarized the centuries-old history of satsuma mandarins worldwide while focusing on the fruit’s modern popularity in Georgia.

Excerpts follow from “Maximizing the Value of Georgia-Grown Satsumas Through Food Innovation,” authored by Emma Moore, Laurel Dunn and Kevin Mis Solval of the UGA Department of Food Science & Technology:

Satsuma mandarins were first identified over 700 years ago in Kagoshima Prefecture in Japan. In 1876, satsumas were introduced to North America. By the beginning of the 1900s, more than a million Owari satsuma trees were planted from the Florida Gulf Coast to Texas.

Satsuma mandarin plants grow well in warm climates and can withstand cold temperatures during winter months. In addition, they can produce high-quality fruits that are sweet and easy to peel compared to other citrus fruits.

Jake Price, UGA county Extension coordinator, played a key role in bringing the first satsuma trees to southern Georgia in 2013. Since then, the number of commercial trees in the state has risen from 4,500 to over 390,000. As a result, southern Georgia is becoming an important region for satsuma mandarins because of its warm climate and ideal growing conditions.

Satsumas make up 85% of Georgia’s burgeoning citrus industry. Lindy Savelle, president of the Georgia Citrus Association, estimates that by the end of 2024, Georgia could produce around 59 million pounds of citrus. Estimates from the end of 2022 showed that Georgia had 3,300 acres or 473,000 citrus trees that could potentially produce around 87 million pounds of citrus fruits by the end of 2025.

In 2021, citrus was grown in 45 counties of southern Georgia. The main cultivar of satsuma mandarin grown in the state is Owari, which makes up 75% of all satsuma trees. In Georgia, the harvesting season of satsuma mandarins is in November.

Source: University of Georgia Extension

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