Interest in citrus continues to spike in North Florida and South Georgia. Georgia acres have doubled over the past year. North Florida has increased by another 300 to 400 this spring, says farmer Kim Jones, who owns a citrus packing facility in Monticello, Florida.
“We’re seeing a whole lot of acres being planted. It’s hard to get trees. We’ve had some difficulties getting trees for Georgia growers and Florida growers,” Jones said. But there’s still a lot of demand and a lot of interest in planting them; a lot of cleaning up being done and wells put in and irrigation put in.
“I’ve got 2,000 trees I can’t get. They won’t be here until next April. I ordered them in 2019 and won’t get them until next year.”
Jones estimates North Florida acreage is up to around 1,200 to 1,300 acres. South Georgia’s acreage is around 2,000 acres. The acreage is increasing amid the Citrus Greening era that has devastated the crop in the rest of Florida.
“We’re worried about it, but hopefully counting on there being a solution or a remedy to that before long. We’re just hoping and praying that’s the case,” Jones said. “It is a factor. We got it in Perry. We got it all along the Gulf Coast in East Point and Apalachicola and Panama City; those areas through there that have homeowner trees. No commercial groves yet.”
Jones believes that since most of the citrus groves are isolated and spaced out, they should be able to fight the disease pretty good. Everybody is watching out for Asian citrus psyllids, which vectors Citrus Greening.
“There’s not much that won’t kill a psyllid,” Jones added. “We’re not doing preventative sprays, but we’re already having to spray for the other insects; it helps keep them at bay.”