The Week in Florida Agriculture
April 14-20, 2008
Spring planting of field crops continues uninterrupted. A late frost mid-week had some negative impact on vegetables, with an estimated 10 percent loss to squash in low-lying areas. In Trenton, the loss to watermelons in low-lying areas might be as high as 25 percent. The potato harvest is under way with most fields yielding a good crop. Due to cool, dry weather most growers are irrigating the later-maturing crops. Harvesting of spring crops continues in areas of the southern peninsula. Light cantaloupe harvest is expected to begin in south Florida. Vegetables: Vegetables and non-citrus fruit marketed includes snap beans, cabbage, celery, sweet corn, cucumbers, eggplant, endive, escarole, greens, okra, peppers, radishes, squash, tomatoes and watermelons. Drought update: Rainfall for the week ranged from none in most areas of the peninsula to a little over an inch in Santa Rosa County. Isolated rainfall was recorded only in the central citrus-producing area at about a quarter of an inch for the week. Dry weather prevailed during the week and the threat of wildfire remains high in some areas. Topsoil and subsoil moisture are mostly short to adequate across the state. Lake Okeechobee level is at 10.40 feet, still well above the 2007 low of 9.99 feet. Livestock and pastures: In the Panhandle and northern areas, pasture condition is in fair condition. Pasture was hurt by a cold snap and growth is slow due to cool temperatures. The condition of cattle is mostly fair. In central areas, pasture condition is mainly in poor condition. Forage growth is been slow due to cold weather. The increased cost of fertilizer is limiting the amount being applied to pastures. The cattle are in very poor to good condition. In the southwestern areas, pasture is mainly in poor condition. Statewide, cattle condition is fair. Citrus: A cool front moved across the state early in the week, with temperatures in citrus-producing counties in the 40s at night and 60s during the day. With dryer weather expected, most growers are continuing to irrigate in order to keep the trees and the new fruit in healthy condition. Overall, trees look good with lots of new foliage on trees of all ages. The bloom period is over and trees are carrying small fruit (pea to marble sized). Valencia harvest, at over 6 million boxes again for the week, is very active. Colored and white grapefruit are still being harvested at over a million boxes weekly, primarily for the processed market. Honey Tangerines, typically a fruit grown for the fresh fruit market, is being processed at a higher rate than normal. Varieties still being harvested include Valencia oranges, grapefruit, and Honey tangerines.