Sweet and Juicy: Satsumas ripe at G&G Farm

Published 9:53 am Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Betty and Bartley “Sonny” Giles stand by a satsuma tree. (Joyanna Love/ Advertiser)

Betty and Bartley “Sonny” Giles stand by a satsuma tree. (Joyanna Love/ Advertiser)

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

MAPLESVILLE —  Sweet and juicy satsumas have ripened at G&G Farms.

“They bloom in the springtime and then they grow all summer long,” Bartley “Sonny” Giles said.  “Usually the first ones are ripe about the 15th or the 21st of September.”

Giles said the fruit has come in later this year and was not ripe until October. He thinks the lingering heat may have been a factor to this.

The farm began growing the unique fruit about eight years ago.

“I just like the way they taste,” Giles said.

He described the taste as a cross between a tangerine and a clementine.

“It’s kind of like a tangerine in a way. It’s a cross between a dancy mandarin and a sweet orange,” Giles said.

He said many customers have also said they enjoy them.

The Satsumas will likely be around until December. Giles said it all depends on how many people come out to pick them.

Giles was first introduced to the species in a book.

The Satsuma trees grow to be 12 to 14 feet tall, according to Giles.

A variety of other citrus is available at the farm.

“We have several varieties. Probably about 20 varieties,” Giles said.

This includes several kinds of oranges, including page orange, Valencia, naval oranges and Louisiana sweet oranges

Some varieties ripen later than others, leaving a constant supply through out the fall.

Customers can choose to pick their own under the direction of the owners or buy the fruit pre-picked.

“It’s amazing. I had never heard of this [growing oranges in Alabama],” customer Ivie Eddings said.

Eddings elected to pick her own satsumas with a pair of small shears provided by the farm.

She said her cousin introduced her to the fruit.

‘They are delicious,” Edding said.

She said she enjoyed picking her own fruit off the tree.

The greenhouse orchard at G&G Farms grew out of Giles extensive farming experience.

“I have been farming off and on all my life,” Giles said.

He started out growing soybeans, corn and raising cattle. Giles also owned a timber business.

When he left the timber industry, Giles and his wife Betty increased the produce they grew on the farm. The list is now extensive, including everything from kiwis to satsumas and vegetables.

The trees in the greenhouse orchard have been grown from buds. Bartley Giles said a bud from the fruit tree is attached to a root stock of woody hardy tree. Once the bud takes it the branch, then the top part of the root stock is cut off, right above where the bud was put in. Giles said having the citrus trees in the greenhouse helps them survive the winter.

“Most citrus are good down to 25 degrees or so. We’ve never lost any,” Giles said.

G&G Farm is located at 15184 County Road 16 in Maplesville.