Ga. seeing rise in citrus farmers
TOOMBS COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Consumers nationwide know about Georgia peaches and Vidalia onions, but we usually associate oranges and grapefruits with Florida.
That’s changing as more people here plant citrus trees. Citrus is still an emerging crop in Georgia and growers say the more the merrier.
Michael Thompson planted trees four years ago and prepares this year for his first commercial crop.
“It’s good for a small operation. You don’t have to have a 100 acre farm,” said Thompson.
Growers in Georgia already have almost 400,000 trees planted. Today, he and other growers, and potential growers, heard from agents of the UGA Extension Service. They offered up info on which variants seem to be thriving more than others in our region’s climate. They also showed off 60 test trees recently planted at the research farm along the Toombs/Tattnall line.
“This place used to be just for onions. This place is big enough to do all kinds of vegetables or specialty crops or whatever,” said Aubrey Shirley, UGA Extension Service.
They’re trying to gage how many acres are already planted, which could help them get more research grants to study citrus and help the industry grow. Joe Franklin now has one of Georgia’s biggest operations after planting his first trees a decade ago.
“To have a successful industry, you have to get people involved. You’ve got to get the consumer involved and be aware of what you’re selling,” said Franklin.
He says growers should organize to collectively market their crop.
All say the more people plant trees and the more acres used, the stronger this crop could become in this region.
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