The Week in Florida Agriculture
January 19-25, 2009
Strawberry losses reported. Oat and rye forages experienced some setback; wheat was hardly affected. Damage to leafy greens left them unmarketable. In the Big Bend, potatoes already planted were covered, with only slight damage reported. Planting of potatoes continues. Some cabbage suffered leaf burn. Strawberry losses reported. Growers reported some damage to strawberry blooms. Some nurseries reported freeze damage to ornamentals. Producers with covered nursery crops reported little damage. Seafood: Amberjack is in good supply. Cold Weather: Many areas throughout the state experienced frosts, freezes, and windy conditions. Preparing for the cold and wind, growers covered plants for protection and harvested heavily. Late in the week producers throughout the state assessed freeze effects after temperatures fell into the 30s and 20s for several hours. Initial reports from south Florida growers declared significant damage to vegetables, but the actual extent is not yet known. Growers expect widespread losses of the more sensitive crops. In areas that were just beginning to plant, no damage was experienced. Berry growers sprayed crops with water to form a protective layer of ice. As a precautionary measure, many citrus growers ran irrigation pumps to help insulate trees from sub-freezing temperatures. Vegetables: Vegetables moving through the market include strawberries, snap beans, cabbage, celery, avocados, sweet corn, cucumbers, greens, eggplant, endive/escarole, okra, peppers, radishes, squash and tomatoes. Preparations for spring planting continue. Livestock and Pastures: The pasture condition throughout the state is mainly very poor to fair due to the cold and freezing temperatures, as well as drought. Pastures in much of the state are brown from the freeze. In the Panhandle and northern areas, pasture condition is very poor to good. The freezing weather burned Bahia pasture that had greened up. It will take a week or so to overcome the cold damage. Cattle condition is fair to excellent. In the central areas, pasture condition is very poor to good. Pastures received severe damage from the cold. Cattle are being fed supplemental hay. In the southwestern areas, pasture is mainly poor to fair. Two days of freeze and or frost caused widespread damage to pastures. Most pastures browned by frost. Hay supplies stored by ranchers are low. Statewide, cattle condition is mainly fair to good. Citrus: Several citrus areas experienced a hard freeze with heavy frost on trees and ice in fruit. Northern citrus-producing areas dropped below 28 degrees in early Wednesday morning and sustained below-freezing temperatures for several hours. Several southern areas recorded temperatures 25 degrees or less. Early and midseason harvesting is about two-thirds complete. Processing plants are running early-midseason oranges at full capacity. Tangerine harvest is making a transition from the early-variety Sunburst to the later-variety Honey. Grapefruit are being picked at the rate of about 700,000 boxes per week with a large amount of the fresh fruit being exported. Caretakers continue to mow, hedge, and run irrigation.