The Week in Florida Agriculture
December 15-21, 2008
Potato fields are being prepared for January and February plantings. Land is being prepared for the spring watermelon crop. Sugarcane is being harvested. Southern counties are marketing peppers, tomatoes, squash, eggplant, cucumbers and specialty crops. Seafood: Spiny lobster and stone crab are plentiful. Forestry: Dormant-season prescribed burning has begun in South Florida. Vegetables: Warm temperatures have favored crop growth. Producers had clear skies as they harvested for the upcoming holiday demand. Snap beans, sweet corn, endive, escarole, radishes and strawberries are being marketed. Light volumes of cabbage are being harvested. The okra market has decreased seasonally. Livestock and Pastures: In the Panhandle and northern areas, pasture is mostly poor due to the long fall drought. Forage in many locations was helped by warmer temperatures and recent rainfall. Dry soil conditions continue to stunt forage growth, while wet fields from recent heavy rains are holding up planting of remaining winter grains and forages. Cattle watering ponds water level is down. Supplemental hay is being fed to compensate for the poor pasture condition. Cattle condition ranges from poor to excellent. In the central areas, pasture is mainly poor to fair. Drought and cold have restricted grass growth. Cattle condition is fair to good. In the southwest areas, pasture is in very poor to good condition. Warm temperatures and dry air have rapidly depleted the pasture’s surface moisture. Statewide, cattle condition is mostly fair to good; pasture condition is poor to good. Citrus: All citrus-producing areas recorded above average temperatures for the week. The west coast has had abnormally dry to severely dry weather over the past three and a half months. Drought conditions now extend as far east as the center of the citrus-growing region. Citrus trees are reported in fair to good condition because of frequent irrigation. Harvesting and packing of Navel oranges, early tangerines, and red grapefruit is farther along than last season. Fresh white grapefruit and Tangelo harvest is lagging slightly. Processing of all oranges continues to be ahead of last season with over 6 million boxes processed for the week (not including Navels) compared to less than 5 million boxes last season. Although juice inventories are up this season, fruit maturity is ahead of last season requiring growers to pick fruit early and transport it to plants. Other than harvesting, grove activity includes fertilizing, cleaning up groves in preparation for harvesting, dormant spraying for psyllid control, and a small amount of hedging.