Fruit and Vegetables
Florida vegetable, melon, potato and berry farmers squeezed a record yield of more than 20,000 pounds of produce from a harvested acre during the 1996-97 season; and, aided by some increased prices, boosted their crop value by seven percent over the previous season.
Crop value climbed to $1.607 billion in 1996-97, highest since the $1.775 billion of the 1992-93 season, and seven percent more than the $1.506 billion of 1995-96.
Farmers harvested from only 332,600 acres in 1996-97, five percent less than the 351,100 acres the previous season, and the fewest acres since 265,100 in 1969-70.
Growers produced an average 20,074 pounds-per-acre in 1996-97, an increase of 1,228 pounds; and 6.5 percent more than 1995-96. It surpassed the previous yield record of 19,606 pounds-per-acre in 1992-93.
The total production of 6,676,700,000 pounds in 1996-97 kept Florida ranked No. 2 as the nations supplier of fresh vegetables.
Florida farmers received price increases in seven of the 15 commodities that make up 98 percent of the states production.
Better prices for cabbage, sweet corn, cucumbers, bell peppers, strawberries, tomatoes and watermelons helped boost the overall value of the crops.
Tomatoes remained the states leading commodity, making up 20.5 percent of the vegetable production with 1.3 billion pounds; and 28.7 percent of the value with sales of more than $462.6 million in 1996-97. Average tomato prices increased 7.5 percent in 1996-97, continuing a recovery from the price and value wrecking impact of NAFTA. The 1996-97 average price of $8.45 per 25-pound box, however, still remained considerably below the $8.81 price and $728.5 million value of pre-NAFTA seasons.
Bell peppers, strawberries, sweet corn and potatoes rounded out the top-5 Florida commodities in 1996-97.
Bell peppers made the most significant recovery in 1996-97, increasing yields by 273 bushels per acre (29.1 percent), production by three million pounds (15.7 percent), price by $0.29 a bushel (2.9 percent) and value by $45 million (24.3 percent), all on 5.2 percent less acreage than the previous season.