Satsumas are just starting to appear in local grocery stores.

According to the LSU AgCenter, despite a cold winter and the threat of insects and disease, this year's Louisiana citrus crop is expected to be a good one.

Ben and Ben Becnel farms south of Belle Chase is now in full production.

"Yield looks very good," Ben Becnel said. "It's average to above average for sure. The trees look very good after the freeze of last year.

Becnel added, "We have plenty of satsumas and navals and they're really sweet."

Friday morning, Becnel ran some of his fruit through a machine that washes then separates his oranges and satsumas by size.

"Satsumas are probably a little smaller because the trees are more heavily loaded," Becnel said. "That tends to make the size a little bit smaller."

In the past 20 years, Louisiana citrus has come under attack by two serious diseases: citrus canker and citrus greening.

Dr. Joe Willis from the LSU AgCenter said this year, some growers have also noticed an internal dry rot caused by a small insect called the leaf-footed bug.

"They have piercing, sucking mouth parts, so they pierce the fruit and suck the juices out," Willis said. "A lot of times when they do that, they also infect the fruit with a yeast."

So far, that hasn't been a problem for Ben Becnel.

"The crop's looking good," Becnel said. "You never know what Mother Nature is going to deal you. But, this year they're sweet."

Bechel had some advice for picking a good satsuma.

"Thin skin will usually be a good satsuma," Becnel said. "Thick heavy skin it will tend to be a little bit drier and not as sweet."

We're now approaching peak season for Louisiana citrus in Plaquemines Parish, especially for the satsumas. So, get them while you can the best fruit will be gone by mid-January.