The Week in Florida Agriculture
December 8-14, 2008
Pine trees are being planted. Small grains are growing slowly due to inadequate rainfall and harvest is delayed. Vegetables are stressed due to lack of moisture. Potatoes are being planted. Cabbage planting continuing. A significant amount of cotton is still in the field. Recent rains were predicted to have damaged some of the crop. These same rains have delayed the planting of winter wheat. Strawberry crop looks good. Strawberry harvest has been delayed due to unseasonably cold weather. Fort Myers is harvesting greens, radishes and tomatoes. Cool weather has slowed vegetable crop growth. Florida City is harvesting and packing avocados, beans, okra, squash, zucchini, tomatoes and eggplant. Seafood: Swordfish is in good supply. Livestock and Pastures: The pasture condition throughout the state is very poor to good. In the Panhandle area, most locations received considerable rain, but the condition of the pasture is very poor to fair due to previous drought. Late winter forage planting has been delayed as fields became too wet for field work. Some winter pastures grew enough to be grazed which improved the condition. Winter grazing small grains, ryegrass and clovers are doing well but generally are not ready for grazing. Cattlemen were depending on "standing hay" (frosted, end-of-season pasture) and are feeding supplemental hay until the first of January when winter forage is ready. Cool- season forages and small grains suffered significant erosion and stand damage from huge amounts of water moving over fields from torrential rains, and flooding was a significant problem in many fields. Any fertilizer applied in the past two weeks was lost. Cattle ponds, which were nearly dry from the past three years of drought, were significantly recharged. Cattle condition ranges from poor to excellent. In the northern area, some additional planting of cool season forages was noted prior to the rain. Existing cool season forage was making slow progress due to dry conditions prior to this rain event. Additional acreage of cool season forage and grains are being planted. Pasture forage in the Big Bend counties was limited by drought and small grains were not coming up because it was too dry. Cattle condition is fair to good. In the central area, winter pasture began to grow, but subsoil moisture is still very dry from fall drought conditions and frost set back pasture grass. Cattle condition is mostly fair. In the southwest area, frost has browned off pastures in some places. Statewide, cattle condition ranges from very poor to excellent with most fair to good. Citrus: Toward the end of the week, a strong cold front came through bringing rain, wind, and much cooler temperatures. Although rainfall was not as much as expected, all areas received at least half an inch, with coastal areas in the west receiving just over an inch. Both coasts were reporting moderately dry conditions and welcomed the much-needed rain. Early-midseason orange harvesting is nearing the maximum expected level for the season. Over 5 million boxes were processed for the week, not including Navels. Many of the plants are receiving smaller-than-average size fruit. Maturity ratios are higher than last season for all orange varieties, but ratios are lower for grapefruit. Most fresh fruit packinghouses are open and packing for fund-raising groups. Demand has picked up steadily since Thanksgiving and has probably peaked for oranges and early tangerines. Other than harvesting, grove activity includes cleaning up groves in preparation for harvesting, some fertilizing, and a small amount of hedging.