Pearl River County residents trying their hand at satsumas

Published 7:00 am Saturday, November 25, 2017

Just five minutes from downtown Poplarville, is a small farm that produces locally grown satsumas.

Its name is The Farm, and it’s owned and operated by Delman and Pauline Walker. Delman Walker’s knowledge of farming and the extra time he has on his hands now that he’s retired, is the driving force behind the satsumas grown at The Farm.

His 200 satsuma trees were planted about a year after he bought the property in 2012, and included the installation of a modified irrigation system that helps protect the trees from hard freezes.

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The system is connected to a well on the site, and includes a ground mounted sprayer at the base of every tree.

Delman said that when he knows a hard freeze will occur, he sets the irrigation system to run during the entirety of that freeze, insulating the tree trunk in a constant protective layer of ice.

Delaman said he learned about the irrigation system from a late friend.

During the first freeze that occurred after he planted his grove, he lost about 20 trees, but the others survived. The types of satsuma trees he grows can handle freezing temperatures without the system down to 10 degrees fahrenheit, but only for up to 12 hours.

That system allowed his trees to live long enough, even through the most recent severe freezes, to mature and begin to bear fruit. This is the first year the trees have produced a significant crop. Delman estimates the trees are bearing about 50 percent of the orchard’s potential this year, and by next year he expects to see about 70 percent potential before reaching full yield the year after.

What he and his family can’t eat, is sold at the Poplarville Farmers Market, which he said is just a short five minute drive from his farm. He also sells his product to local grocery stores and individuals.

Delman worked as a farm manager about 39 years ago, but later transitioned to the insurance field.  This is the first time he’s tried his hand at growing satsumas. His prior experience of working farms in Kansas and Colorado included growing corn, wheat and other grains.

Even though he officially retired in March of last year, he doesn’t feel as though he has extra time on his hands.

“I didn’t retire, I just changed jobs, but this one pays a whole lot less,” Delman said.

While picking the fruit is just one of the tasks involved in growing satsumas, there is a lot more to maintaining the trees than just picking fruit in the fall, when the satsumas are ready.

Keeping insects off the trees, ensuring they are watered and keeping the grass cut around them is also required. However, Delman said he probably spends about one to two days maintaining the grove.

If he cares for them properly, Delman estimates the trees will live for between 20 to 30 years.

He’s also found time to add to the farm, setting up rows of thornless blackberry bushes, blueberry bushes and fig trees. The last addition was a request from his wife, who loves figs.

Those new additions aren’t bearing fruit just yet, but when they do, he intends to allow customers to come to The Farm pick their own berries. 

The Farm is located at 967 Old Wiggins Highway, Poplarville and can be reached at 601-870-9606.