South Georgia citrus crop faces potential freeze

BULLOCH CO., GA (WTOC) - The cold snap has people turning up the heat and grabbing their blankets, but one emerging South Georgia crop doesn't have those options.

The owner of a citrus orchard in Bulloch County says he's hanging on our every forecast and watching the number closely. He says his mature plants can handle what is forecast, but that's about it.

Franklin Farms has grown to nearly 5,000 trees, and the oldest ones now produce fruit. They've already suffered one freeze this year, back in the spring. That knocked out a large part of their crop. Owner Joe Franklin says they're harvesting what they do have and bracing for where these temperatures could go. He thinks they can withstand the forecasts he's heard so far.

"Now, if we get down below that, with the chance of rain and freezing rain, we could see some damage, especially if we get down to 25 degrees," Franklin said. "I'm watching the weather several times a day. I'm keeping up with John Wetherbee."

Last year, they picked up 40,000 pounds of fruit, but not this year.

"It hurt us tremendously. We're only going to have about 25 percent of that this year," Franklin said.

He's not as worried about the mature trees as he is about the younger ones that were planted this year.

"If it comes to 25, this tip and this tip, it'll kill them."

Franklin's goal now is to get the crop picked and focus on next year.

He hopes they can get the rest of the crop harvested by the end of the month before colder temperatures come in January.

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