Citrus industry growing fast in Georgia

Citrus industry growing fast in Georgia
These are sticky traps used on FL Citrus groves. These little critters, psyillid, have infested many citrus crops in FL.
These are sticky traps used on FL Citrus groves. These little critters, psyillid, have infested many citrus crops in FL.

THOMAS CO., GA (WALB) - Citrus farms are growing in South Georgia and at a fast pace!

This growth is expected to boost the economy and potentially add new jobs.

F & C Farms in Boston is one of many citrus groves in Thomas County.

Right now, the county has the largest of number citrus trees in the entire state of Georgia. 5,300 to be exact.

"This is super exciting to see a new commodity come to Georgia," said Lindy Savelle, President of Georgia Citrus Growers Association.

In just one year the amount of citrus trees in the ground in Georgia has doubled, jumping from 20,000 to more than 40,000.

"It's something that's easily grown, you don't have to be a farmer you can be a new farmer, you can be an investor," said Savelle.

When you think of Citrus you usually think of our neighboring state of Florida.

But for the past several years Florida's Citrus Harvest has hit an all time low, falling 16 percent just last season.

That dip in crop production stems from a deadly disease that has infected nearly 80 percent of the crop in Florida.

"The University of Florida has all the citrus knowledge so we have been trying to get them up here as much as we can and they have been very helpful," said Jake Price, Lowndes Co. Extension Agent

Agriculture leaders in the two states are joining together to help out the new growers here in Georgia.

"It's very exciting. People are always looking for something that is profitable and citrus is one thing to get into," said Price.

With this new crop being added to the market in Georgia it could bring more jobs and a boost to the economy.

"It's already bringing agribusiness. Because in order to grow citrus you have to have irrigation, processing facilities which bring jobs, tax dollars, and benefits to people," said Savelle.

Based on new trees that were recently planted, it might be awhile before you bite into an orange grown in Georgia, but agriculture leaders say we are headed in the right direction.

"There may be some niche markets for satsumas and other cold tolerant fruits," said Price.

Other than Thomas County, Lowndes County has the second largest citrus tree population with 4,900 and Grady County is fourth with 4,500.

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