Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sweet Return

The Mississippi Clarion Ledger has published an article

on resurrgence of satsuma crops in Plaquemines Parish.

Hurricane Katrina wiped out about half the satsuma trees in Plaquemines Parish, La., the tonguelike parish on the tip of southeast Louisiana where most of the Gulf Coast's satsuma crop originates.

Jimmy Boudreaux, a commercial vegetable specialist at the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center in Baton Rouge, said it has been a hard road back for satsuma growers.

Katrina ripped up the small citrus trees, and some acreage flooded with deadly salt water.

They were just beat up so bad, he said. "Of course, the crop was beat up the storm year, and the next year the trees had to recover."

Some growers devastated by the 2005 storm still have not gotten back into the business, he said.

They lost everything, so the orchard is the last thing on their minds, he said. "They lost their homes; they lost everything."

But for those satsuma farmers who managed to save a portion of their trees, this year is looking pretty good.

Immediately following the storm, growers rushed their surviving product to market, harvesting as much as possible from an early crop.

That year, the Louisiana satsuma crop was valued at $2.6 million in farm income, down only slightly from the 2004's crop value of $2.7 million.

Last year's harvest, hampered by dying trees and fewer growers, brought just $1.6 million.

We think we could maybe do one and a half or two times that this year, Boudreaux said.

Even if this year's crop is wildly larger than expected, it's still small by any standard.

By comparison, last year's Florida orange crop was valued at $1.5 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Through the entire state, Boudreaux said Louisiana only has 164 satsuma producers tending 316 acres of trees.

I haven't tasted the Plaquemines Parish satsumas yet, but had some Slidell version about a month
ago and they are wonderfully fresh and sweet!!!

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