Doctor Ethan Natelson President

Click Here to Email the President

Travis J. Callahan Web Master

Click here to E-mail Travis

SFF Logo Compliments of Robert Hamilton


This is a sincere invitation to join the Southern Fruit Fellowship. I have been a member of this fine group for the past 29 years. I have met people in person and by mail and E-mail and I feel that nearly everything I know about growing fruit today came from communication with other fruit growers. The SFF makes this easy to do with a fine newsletter that includes the names and addresses of the people that write of their experience growing a large variety of fruits here in the south. These people are happy to share their experience with new members.

Every year SFF has a meeting of it's members somewhere in the south. The location changes so that every member gets a chance to attend. Two years ago the meeting was held here in Abbeville, LA, but I have attended other meetings in other states over the years and each is a happy memory for me.  Many members make this meeting their yearly vacation to meet others with like interests and immerse themselves in the fruit growing world.

I have had many hobbies over the years, but the one that is dearest to me is growing fruit trees and vines. Come join me.

Travis J. Callahan

11403 Wesley Road

Abbeville, LA 70510

Click here to print the membership application


Click below to E-mail Retta Davis our Membership Chairperson

  Click here for a sample  Newsletter of The SFF

Newsletter Editors Larry & Jennifer Stephenson

Click here to  email  Larry

Click here to email Jennifer




Southern Fruit Fellowship Officers:

President Dr. Ethan Natelson

8707 Wateka Drive

Houston, TX 77074

email the President

Vice- President: Dr. A. J. Bullard

307 W. Henderson Street

Mt Olive, NC 28365

Secretary: Dr. Chris Inhulsen

4865 SR 26E

Montezuma, GA 31063

  An example of a typical meeting of the SFF, this time in my town




Chris Inhulsen

4865 SR 26E

Montezuma GA 31063



And so the slogan was for our recent meeting in the heart of Acadiana. I am certain that all who were fortunate enough to be able to attend would agree that our meetings just keep getting better and this one was no exception. What is beyond discussion is that it was certainly the most well attended on record. I was told that over 70 people came and enjoyed the informational talks and tours.



Folks began to "roll" in Thursday afternoon from all over the southeastern U.S. A.J. Bullard, traveling from North Carolina won the award for the longest trip in miles, but the 11 Ĺ  hours that I had to drive were nothing to sneeze at. Members from Tennessee, Florida, Georgia and Alabama joined with an enthusiastic complement of local folks (members new and old as well as master gardeners) to create a convivial crowd at the Sunbelt Lodge meeting room.


BOUDIN You never sausage a meeting

Of course we had to eat and our members brought fruit and fruit products from their respective orchards. There were AU Cherry and AU Roadside plums, blueberries beyond number, jellies and bread, and for the adventurous of tongue, even some spirits of Medlar. Our hosts Stuart Gauthier and Robert Turley provided a supplementary tray of delicious locally obtained produce. (I still have got to get Robert to send me some scion-wood of that cherry...grin!). Others brought grape, pomegranate, fig, pepper plants to give/sell/exchange. Many discussions and networking sessions lasted until late in the evening.



The good times began in earnest on Friday morning as the group gathered at the Vermilion Parish Extension building. We were welcomed by our host, Stuart Gauthier.  During the process of the forenoon we enjoyed presentations by Drs. David Himelrick, John Pyzner, and James Boudreaux on Berry Fruits in the Home Orchard, Pecans for the South, and Home Citrus Production in South Louisiana respectively. So much information, so little time. Dr. Himelrick is writing on home fruit production in the south and I am looking forward to getting one.



Our tour of home orchards began at the home of Jeb Guidry. His home/farm/orchard is located in the midst of the steamy plains of sugarcane and rice fields in southwest Vermilion Parish, near Kaplan. Being an outsider, I did not immediately recognize the first crawfish "pond". I thought it was a big muddy field. I came later to understand that crawfish farming is practiced in rotation with rice farming and therefore it is no surprise to find the ponds liberally sprinkled around in the landscape.


Anyway we found ourselves in this quintessentially Acadian setting and what was first on the agenda? Lunch! And what a lunch. The Guidrys feasted us with such delicious authentic Cajun creations as boudin, grillades, rice, beef brisket, fruit salad and bread. Absolutely delectable. Many of us took our lunch out under the large spreading live oaks in the back yard. We toured the orchard after lunch and admired the row after row of satsuma, kumquats and grapefruit. I can only dream of having such citrus. 




Hungry Fruit Folks

Web Master Note:

Imagine that you are told that a few people are coming to tour your orchard. How many people is an unknown. I was there. The Guidry family fed a Cajun meal to seventy people and had plenty left over. Cajun people have more food in their freezers that most supermarkets. Just dig out a few packages and heat them up. Southern Hospitality that the Guidry family demonstrated beyond a doubt. Thanks Jeb and Family.



The late Mr. Jeb Guidry answers questions from the group



Next stop was Vincent's Christmas Tree Farm and Fruit Orchard. The Vincent's have a neat operation where they sell satsumas and trees at the same time of year. It was interesting to tour his packing shed and see how everything works.  

 Vincent Orchard

We traveled down the road to Simon's Citrus Orchard next and toured his satsuma operation. Again, this was a neat small satsuma operation. Very nice. I must confess that my attention was deflected by a big butterfly vine, Mascagnia macroptera, over a trellis as well as by the excellent apple cake and pico de gallo in the shed. Yummmmm.  

Simon's Orchard


The last orchard visit of the day was back in Abbeville at the Fruit Ranch of Roy Young. His is a picturesque pick your own orchard/vineyard/nursery. The driveway and road frontage was flanked by Champanel (among others) grapes which in turn bordered the rows of figs, citrus, and other fruit. Mr. Young also maintains a nice size home nursery in the belief that folks who see and taste his fruit will want to grow some for themselves. His trees were planted up to the edge of the Vermilion River not far from his back porch. 



The evening meal, a delightful mixture of meatball fricassee, rice, salad , beans....(with dessert provided by some of the local Master Gardeners) was followed by a short program and business meeting.


A.J. Bullard related his mixed experiences in grafting and growing the Chinese melon berry, or Che, (or Cudrania tricuspidata) for that matter. He has grafted it successfully ..or at least on the short Osage orange (Maclura pomifera) . The obvious reason for such tinkering around is to avoid the vicious suckering root sprouts that are so prevalent with the Che on its own roots.


Robert Hamilton updated us on his efforts to create a website and the availability of T-shirts with our logo on them.


After these two speakers, our "business" then consisted of


1. Approval to keep the current slate of Officers.

2. Raise the dues to $12.00 to keep up with postage and printing costs.

3 Discuss the site of the next meeting. (Stay tuned)


Saturday morning we were on the road again... east this time... to the brothers Romero orchards outside of New Iberia. As we parked under the beautiful spreading branches of the live oaks, Quercus virginiana, I thought, WOW, let me just stay here. The rest of y'all go on the tour. There is an uncanny something about these large trees. When large and well groomed, and especially if they are laden with Spanish moss, resurrection fern and green fly orchid, Epidendron magnoliae, they have the distinct ability to impart an ambiance, an air of everything good about the south in one visual experience. Does anyone else feel that way? I sense another article coming.. Anyway, where was I.....


 One brother specializes in citrus, peaches, and  blueberries and has a beautiful, clean, orchard.


The other brother, across the road has the above, but has a much greater variety of fruits. If you can grow it, and even if you can't, it is there. There were papaya, passion fruit, muscadines, peaches, a full assortment of garden vegetables and who knows what else.





After our most enjoyable time there, the group left for the orchard of Mr. R. J. Robichaux and then for a tour of Live Oak Nursery. Notice, I wrote "the group" buddy Lamon and I had to leave for the long, very long, traffic jam ridden, oh my backside aching journey back to GA. After enduring traffic slowed to a seemingly endless and pointless standstill going and coming in Baton Rouge and going in Mobile, I want to figure out a better way to get westward across the Atchafalaya Basin. Don't hold your breath.  




Let us all remember to grow good fruit, share the bounty, write plenty of good articles and

come to the next meeting. 




Stuart J. Gauthier

County Agent

Vermilion Parish

1105 West Port

Abbeville, LA 70510


Although difficult, we managed to get everyone out of the Romero Brothersí Orchard in Coteau and back on the road towards R.J. Robichauxís place in St. Martinville.  After a winding drive through the Iberia and St. Martin Parish countryside, we arrived near the banks of the Bayou Teche at a backyard planting of a wide variety of fruit including figs, pears, persimmons, and jujubes.

From his back porch, Roland Robichaux, a pharmacist by trade, explained the history behind the development of his orchard.  This included over a twenty year journey of experimenting with a wide variety of plant stock and working with numerous horticulturalists from local universities like LSU, and UL. 

R.J. has become a local expert on persimmons and figs.  He shared some of his harvested figs with the group.   These included the giant Celeste or Tiger and the yellow Celeste or Champagne.  His love of horticulture evolved into his daughter Mary Beth achieving a Masterís Degree in Horticulture at LSU and getting a job at our next stop on the tour Live Oak Gardens and Nursery.

Mary Beth led the way to Live Oak Gardens near Delcambre, Louisiana.  On arrival, we were greeted by nursery owners Mike Richard, Sr. and Mike Richard Jr.  

Mike Richard, Sr. gave the group a brief history lesson about the nursery.  This large wholesale nursery is situated on top of a salt dome and is located on the edge of Lake Peigneur.  Recent tragedies have given the nursery media attention.  A drilling rig in the Lake Peigneur in the 1980ís caused the salt mine to collapse and swallowed some of the surrounding property. Two Hurricanes within the last 5 years, Rita and Ike, have flooded the nursery with saltwater.  Despite this damage Live Oak gardens continues to be one of the largest and most successful wholesale nurseryís in the state.  



Mike Richard Sr. in one of the many greenhouses




Mike Sr. then gave us a walking tour of the nurseryís recent venture into edible fruits.  This included an extensive array of cold hardy avocadoes propagated from successfully grown trees in the Acadiana Area.  Tour participants viewed a large greenhouse filled with container grown avocadoes grown in containers top dressed with gypsum.  The calcium in the gypsum seems to repel stem cankers and root rotting fungi that often damage young avocado trees. Olives, jelly palms, cherimoya, mangoes, blueberries, pomegranates and other fruit being grown in the field and in a wide variety of container sizes were viewed.   


The tour took place around noon on possibly the hottest day of the year and it generated lots of perspiration.  However, Mike Richard Sr.ís knowledge  and history lesson of the operation made the sweating worth the effort.

We finished up with a beautiful view of the Lake, a cool drink and a great Cajun meal at Cafť Jefferson. Some of the group lingered around for a little longer and made a pass through the gift shop and took a tour of the Joseph Jefferson gardens and house.


 Don Richard

7351 Board Drive

Baton Rouge, LA 70817


I thoroughly enjoyed the 2009 Annual Conference at Abbeville. Since I live in Baton Rouge there was no excuse for not going especially since I've never been closer to Abbeville than Lafayette.


I enjoyed the hospitality shown to us by Mr. Jeb Guidry, the Romero brothers, and R.J. Robichaux. The reason I didn't mention any others was because it was so hot I used my wife as an excuse for leaving at noon each day. Even though I live here, I still can't get used to our July heat.


I've never seen such kindness as shown by Mr. Guidry and family to feed 70 plus people, as well as allow them the run of their orchard and  house.

We also enjoyed Mr. R.J. Robichaux's invitation to sample all his figs. Two days after we got home, there was an article in the Baton Rouge Advocate newspaper about the newer fig varieties. After reading the article, my wife was able to brag that she had tasted all of them!

I also enjoyed meeting all those people that I've read about in the SSF Newsletters, as well as meeting new friends. We felt like the whole program was very well planned out. I've never been in a 40 car caravan and had vehicles yield us the right of way! Try that in Baton Rouge if you don't value your life!


Congratulations to all for a very good meeting.


Lamon Ready 526 Ready Lane Cairo, Ga. 39827 Phone-229-377-5111   

Ahhh, another SFF meeting I was able to make. A year further into a hip replacement, and something really helping the fibromyalgia at last, this meeting was easier on me physically. It was an awesome meeting! Only problem is, I'll have to wait for next year......

When I got back, I found my Joy apple in its 2nd bud bloom. I got one apple about 3 weeks ago, but I waited too long to pick it. It seemed sooo early to be ripe that I missed it.  Hopefully I will get another one.

  Contrary to recommendations, I root most of my citrus. I have a pink grapefruit I got from a local man, but he didnít remember the name. He also had a seedling from it that is white meated, with few seeds and has smaller thorns.

Since a nursery friend in Moultrie, GA helped me perfect my method, I should get a high take on the grapefruit. Satsumas are very hard to root, so I may have to try another idea on them. The Persian lime is supposed to be easy to root like the lemons. My friend says it tastes much like an orange.

 I live near what was formerly  Wights Nursery (now Monrovia) in Cairo, GA which has a lot of nurseries. I get my fertilizer from a local company which will even special blend it if needed. They supply all kinds of rooting/potting mixes, and nursery supplies. I'm really blessed this way. They are trying to get me some greensand to try, but thatís hard to get here. Does anyone know where we might find some?

 I put out Illinois Everbearing mulberry cuttings as my fellow SFF members recommended. They are looking good so far! I had tried rooting them in January like roses, plums, pomegranates, etc without success. January is so much easier for me and I prefer putting out cuttings then of the plants that will root dormantly.

 I need to go to my folksí house and check out my pawpaws and Sherwood jujubes. I bought a GA 866 jujube a while back. Iím trying to root cuttings of it, if the dogs havenít destroyed them.

I was so excited to see the fig plantings  at the meeting! I  put out the 'Smith' cuttings that were so graciously given to me by Eddie Romero. I have also put out some more of either LSU Gold, or Dianna fig cuttings. Yummmmmmy. I have two Ventura figs I'm closely watching.

 It is a blessing to have a dear friend like Chris Inhulsen to be able to ride with, and share cost with.  We live close enough that we see each other several times a year.

We have been blessed with rain and I have only had to water the blueberries once since our meeting. I plan on writing a letter to the editor of the local newspaper about our group and this meeting. Hopefully some new people will join. The more, the merrier! Till next year, Lord willing!





  Average rainfall in South Louisiana 

Travis J. Callahan Abbeville, LA 70510
I have tracked daily rainfall in my yard for 27 years


1990-1999 average yearly rainfall 65.9 inches

2000-2010 average yearly rainfall  61.9 inches

2011-2016 average rainfall  72.6 inches

27 year average 66.8 inches

Lowest year 2000 @ 44.4 inches

Highest year 2016 @ 90.5 inches




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Southern Fruit Fellowship Newsletter is not responsible nor liable for missed issues due to an address or change.

Membership! The Southern Fruit Fellowship is an informal organization of amateur fruit growing enthusiasts throughout the Southern United State. Membership is open to all interested parties. Membership dues are $15.00 per year inside the US. Please note the date that you join or renew your membership. Please do not send your Money to the editor. Please send your check or money order payable to:

Southern Fruit Fellowship

c/o Retta Davis

2051 Evergreen Drive

Shreveport, LA 71118



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