Satsuma Oranges

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The Panhandle has some of the most fertile farm land anywhere in the U.S., and farmers are constantly looking for new ways to stay competitive in a changing market.

One crop that hasn't been grown in eight decades is about to make a comeback.

Eighty years ago, Jackson County farmers said good-bye to the Satsuma orange industry.

Ed Jowers, Ag Extension Agent, says, “In the early 20s, Jackson County was the Satsuma capital of Florida and we had two back to back freezes along that time and it wiped out the industry."

But with the help of modern technology, the Satsuma will make a comeback in Jackson County this fall.

Mack Glass is one of three Satsuma orange growers in the area. His 600 trees will each produce an estimated 80 pounds of fruit this fall.

"We've progressed a long way from what we used to be able to do as far as freeze protection."

Mack adds, "They say that with the cooler weather we can make a sweeter product than we grow down south, but we haven't tested the market as far as the volume of the product."

Because of changes in the farming industry, Glass says he's had to find alternative crops to keep his operation alive.

"We're under a tremendous amount of stress in this global market to compete with commodity crops, so a lot of the regulations that we have to follow and the input cost are astronomical on the commodity crops, so I'm looking for an alternative niche."

So when you shop for Satsumas this fall, look for the ones with the evergreen foliage. They're easy to peel with almost no seeds and they should be sweeter than the ones you're used to eating.

Satsuma oranges came to the U.S. from Japan back in 1878.