Thomasville Times Enterprise

August 15, 2013

Conference set on growing satsumas as alternative crop

Clint Thompson
University of Georgia, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

VALDOSTA — Farmers interested in growing an alternative crop can learn about Satsuma oranges on Thursday at the Lowndes County Civic Center in Valdosta.

A conference will be held highlighting potential satsuma commercial production in south Georgia and north Florida. Satsumas are mandarin oranges that most resemble tangerines. They are grown mostly in California, Alabama and Louisiana but are not grown in south Georgia or north Florida. Lowndes County Extension agent Jake Price is hoping this conference will help change that.

“They grow in pretty much the same (climate) zone as we have. There’s no reason that Georgia can’t have some industry, too,” Price said.

The conference will feature scientists and researchers from the University of Georgia and University of Florida, including Wayne Hanna, a plant breeder in UGA’s Crop and Soil Science Department on the Tifton campus. He will discuss making cold hardy citrus fruits seedless. Also to be featured will be ways to market Satsuma oranges.

Joyce Akins, a former director of the school and nutrition program in the Lowndes County School System, will talk about how to market the crop to school systems. Sean R. McCoy, a regional specialized agent in the Rural and Agribusiness Development for the Suwanee Valley Agricultural Extension Center, will discuss pricing and marketing satsumas.

“If somebody’s going to produce something, it’s good to have them a market lined up before they get into production,” Price said.

Satsumas are a cold-tolerant fruit. Once established, they can withstand temperatures as low as 15 degrees. They’re also seedless and easy to peel.

“They’re about as good or better than anything you will buy in the store,” Price said.

The conference will be held from noon to 3 p.m. To register, contact the Lowndes County Extension Office at (229) 333-5185. Registration is limited to 75 participants. A meal will be provided.