What Crops Were Grown in Colonial Georgia?

Colonial Georgia was founded in 1732 by British settlers. The Yarnacraw Native American tribe granted a long stretch of land, including Georgia's sea islands, to the settlers. Georgia's soil was rich and fertile and accommodated a number of crops. Despite a low number of horses and proper farming equipment, colonial Georgia exported vegetables and other crops.

Agricultural landscape
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Crop Rows

Indigo

Blooming flowers
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Indigo Plant used for Dye

A colonist named Eliza Lucas introduced indigo to Georgia from South Carolina around the year 1700, and it subsequently became one of colonial Georgia's main crops. Indigo plants required little maintenance and took four months from planting to harvest. While indigo grew with little trouble, the harvest was grueling physical work.

Rice

Rice field
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Rice Field

One of the biggest crops in colonial Georgia, rice was grown in fresh water swamps near the coast where farmers captured water from swollen rivers. Farmers trapped water from swollen streams and soaked their fields for up to 17 days at a time. This laborious process, which included constant weeding and hoeing, was repeated from March until September. Farmers mostly utilized slave labor to grow rice.

Cotton

Cotton field
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Georgia Cotton

Cotton was one of the original crops planted in the experimental garden of Savannah. It grew best on the sea islands where soil was most fertile. Once the colonial period came to an end, quality Georgia cotton was famous around the world. It would soon become a booming plantation industry.

Oranges

Oranges on tree in orchard
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Orange Tree

The orange tree was a successful crop in colonial Georgia. According to James Bonner, over 3,000 gallons of orange juice were exported from the colony in one year alone. Colonists did not heavily rely on this crop as one cold winter could wipe out an entire orchard. After time, orange orchards were only grown on the coast.

Mulberry Trees

Farmers Produce Silk In China
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Worker with Mulberry Leaves for Silk Worms

Colonists grew mulberry trees to feed silk worms for the production of silk. While there were established mulberry orchards, any kind of farmer grew mulberry trees in and around other crops to feed the flourishing silk industry. By 1750, landowners were legally required to grow mulberry trees on their property. Even though silk production was painstaking and laborious, the mulberry tree required little attention or care.

Other Crops

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Tobacco Plant

Colonial Georgia also cultivated corn, hemp, sweet potatoes, peanuts and pumpkins. Tobacco was to become Georgia's most successful crop after the founding of the U.S.