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Sweet Georgia Carrots

first_imgJames Tate, a Jeff Davis County farmer, has about 40 acres of carrots. “I’m in a co-op with nine different farmers,” Tate said. “We’re responsible for ourown carrots, but we’re selling them together through a co-op we’ve established in Almaat a packing shed down there.” One group of farmers in Coffee, Wayne, Jeff Davis and Bacon counties has gottentogether to provide more of those sweet carrots for shoppers in Georgia and across thenation. They’re finding a new way to market their carrots by making sure they’resweeter than others in the grocery store. When you think of carrots, the word “sweet” may not immediately come to mind.Unless you’re crunching on a Georgia carrot. Particularly fine-textured soils and moderate temperatures in south Georgia have provenideal to grow carrots consumers like. Sandy and loam soils allow carrots to grow without odd bumps or curves, too. Kelley said it’s warm days and cool nights that allow sugars to accumulate in the carrotroot. The south Georgia climate is just right for a high sugar accumulation. Mullis thinks they can do it with their carrots. He said taste tests have had samplers andbuyers coming back with orders. Mullis said co-op members are hoping to gain market superiority with their product.”We’re hoping to do the same thing the Vidalia onion has done,” he said.center_img The carrot co-op is packing out roughly 40 tons every day. Kelley said the co-op isstabilizing the flow of carrots out of Georgia. “Consumers generally want a good, straight, long carrot, and that’s what we can givethem,” he said. This first carrot co-op markets its crop to national grocery store chains and evenCanadian stores. “Carrots are a fairly new crop to Georgia,” said Terry Kelley, a horticulturist with theUniversity of Georgia Extension Service. “No one in the nation that we’re aware of is using a refractometer on carrots,” saidSteve Mullis, a carrot processor for the south Georgia cooperative. Refractometersmeasure sugar content and show that Georgia carrots contain more sugar than thosegrown elsewhere in the nation. “We’ve been growing carrots in Georgia for probably five or six years,” he said. “Butit’s an industry that continues to grow. It has attracted a lot of attention because of theunique taste of the carrots grown in Georgia.” “I think we’re approaching close to a million-dollar value on the crop,” he said. “Andthat’s going to continue to grow in the next few years.”last_img

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