What are best oranges for juicing that I can grow in my zone?

Zone 9a in extreme southeast Georgia. We recently move here, and are just starting to figure out what we can grow. My wife has been buying bulk Valencia oranges and juicing them. The Valencias are pretty good imo. We’d like to plant an orange tree, but want to check out all our options first. Any suggestions for a good juicing orange that we could grow would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Ed

I think you are borderline at best for sweet oranges. I’m in 9B and we are said to be the lower end where you can grow sweet oranges. Our lows never get below 25-26f.

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I am on the 8b / 9a line in Louisiana, in my experience around here growing anything other than Satsumas is a risk, even then you need to have active freeze protection in place the first few years, and even when mature it is best you have a plan to provide freeze protection for those once in ever 20-30 year freezes. Typically I cover even my mature 8-10 ft tall 12-15 ft wide Satsuma trees when an extremely hard freeze is in the forecast and the temperatures are expected to hit the low 20’s. This year it backfired on me, we had a freeze where the temperatures were 10 degrees colder than forecast and hit 21 degrees at once point, I covered my younger citrus, but not my mature trees, and they suffered major leaf loss (70-90%) and a bit of dieback, thankfully it looks like they will all survive, if they had been sweet oranges without protection I suspect they would be dead.

On a positive note you can juice Satsuma’s and the juice does taste fairly good, just a bit more tang to it than Valencia, the downside to it is a much shorter refrigerated shelf life.

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I am also in 8B/9A, but that does not stop atypical cold blasts from Canada from barging in irregularly. Citrus choosing is best planned when planned around the atypical cold blasts, rather than “normal” weather. Whatcha gonna do…when the cold blasts come. This will be a very wordy report card grade on the juicing orange candidate that has worked OK for me: the Hamlin orange grafted on Carrizo citrange. It has good sugar, good flavor (including a slight pineapple component), and can either be juiced or eaten straight up…Planted April 2009 with a 1-1/4" thick lower trunk/graft area and 5 ft tall. BIG FREEZE #1 January 2010 had 4 cold nights running lows of 23, 14, 21, and 24 degrees consecutively. Protection: heavy mulch mounded around the lower area, string spiral-wrapped around the flexible, young branches to pull them close in, top to bottom wrapping with weed blocking clothe stapled snug, and on top was a top to bottom snug wrapping of plastic sheeting. Outcome: The Hamlin defoliated 100%, the upper half of the tree died, and lower surviving branches had some split bark but still hung on even till today. HAPPY…Fast forward 7 years to January 2017. The lower trunk/graft area is now oval shaped and measures3" wide X 4-1/2" wide for a much beefier thickness to face the cold. The width of some side branches reaches 9 ft diameter, and the highest branch tips reach 14 ft. The 2016/2017 crop was really loaded up with 3-1/2" to 4" diameter tasty oranges, and I did not chose to fertilize this tree that year. …BIG FREEZE #2 After much warmer than normal 4 weeks ( only 3 nights below 32 degrees) where many days had a high temp of 55 to 80 degrees, a cold blast arrived for a rapid change over to threaten the less cold- hardened citrus that were spoiled to mostly mild weather. On arrival day the temps dropped rapidly and 1/2" of freezing rain left an icy covering on leaves/twigs/fruit. The next 2 nights bottomed out at 19 and 23 degrees. There were 30 hours below 32, then 6 hours above reaching 41 max, then another 15 hours below 32. The consenus weather forecasts changed their less-alarming 29 degree forecast to 25 the night before, but they still were several degrees too high. If I knew that we would have both ice and 19 degrees, I would have done more for protection. Outcome: The now-big Hamlin with zero cold protection had defoliated 100%, most outer 1/8" to 1/4" thick twig tips died back from 1" to 8", and one high up triangular shoot died back 3 ft. Importantly, there are no bark splits that I could see, not even on very thin twigs. So now 8 weeks post freeze, the tree is full of new 2" -3" leaves all over. They have grown well because the weather has been warmer than usual for most of Jan/Feb. There are no flowers, but waiting for fruit next year is fine with me…I have whacked off the top several feet recently to keep it lower for my convenience…My somewhat smaller N-33 navel oranges had a lot of damage, as did the 2 Moro blood oranges, as did the 2 Cara Cara oranges. The Hamlin would no-doubt be more cold hardy were it grafted on Trifoliate or Flying Dragon, but it would also be a smaller tree with fewer fruit. Saxon Becnel And Sons in Orange, TX and in Plaquemine Parish, S. LA grow and sell these through many nurseries. In the state of LA they use the name “Louisiana Sweet Orange” for the Hamlin…I also like juicing satsumas and freezing the juice for hot Summer enjoyment, and the many mature satsumas here all did as good or better than the Hamlin in this warm-then freeze event. Several years ago one of the Becnel sons told me over the phone that" a mature Hamlin could handle 25 degrees". It did even better than that.


Thank you for the detailed responses. looks like Satsumas and Hamlins are leading the pack. A little bit of advantage here as far as climate, is that we are nearer the ocean, which tends to be a bit more moderating in the winter. Not that it can’t freeze here, because it does. I’ve also been in southern Louisiana, and the “Blue Northers” are a bit more cold, than the average winter cold front here. We’ll start some research on what orange trees are available in the stores around here. We were in Home Depot a few days ago just over the border in Florida, and they were flush with orange trees, but the labels said they couldn’t be taken out of state :frowning:

PS anybody know an online source for Hamlin trees?

Was sniffing around Lowe’s last week, and low and behold a stock of nice Hamlin trees. Not sure how old they are, but they are about 5’ tall, and the trunk is 1/2"-3/4" thick, and they have blossoms and oranges on them. We scooped one up and planted it. Ours has about 20 little oranges on it. Should I leave them or pluck a few off to encourage more growth?

Citrus is pretty good at self thinning, and it sounds like a more vigorous root stock to be that size, I would just let the citrus do what it wants. If the crop is heavy for the tree than next year you might have a light crop in relations (this is what I have seen from my trovita orange which is young and held a large crop last year)

San Jose- Is your trovita orange tree thicker now compared to it’s thickness 12 months ago… before using so much of it’s 2016 growth potential to put on a large crop last year? If thicker than a year ago, how much thicker?

The tree (really a shrub) has had very dense foliage I haven’t noticed the trunk. It’s on some type of dwarfing rootstock in ground from Four Winds Citrus. Their dwarf rootstock is notorious for being slow to grow. I have a bears lime on semi-dwarf from costco and it is very vigorous and thick despite being a couple of years younger. It also gives me loads of limes, in ground against a south wall.

A few pics. How long should I wait to fertilize?

Wait until you start to see new leaf flush, then fertilize with a citrus fertilizer (it will be higher in N, and should have a nice complement of micros as well as the NPK macros). I would recomment planting your citrus on the S side of your house, close to the house, to give them radiant heat from your house, full sun, and some cold protection. If that’s possible.

Patty S.

Patty thanks. No option on the south side, so it’s on the east side of the house, but our backyard is fairly well protected and from north winds. Had to balance sun hours, etc. and did the best we could with the location. Thanks for the suggestion of the citrus fertilizer.

Midknight Valencia is said to be zone 9a to zone 11a, In my research It seemed to be like both Valencia and navel orange, yet has all the great qualities of a Valencia orange, a great juicing orange, mine is too small to have had fruit yet and because of our climate it has to stay potted and indoors for the winter.