The Week in Florida Agriculture
February 16-22, 2009
Panhandle growers are preparing fields for planting soybeans, cotton and peanuts. A significant amount of the strawberry crop was lost, but plants are blooming again. The wheat crop is in good condition. Current crop of greens, cabbage and broccoli has been harvested. Potato planting is complete. Strawberry harvesting is at its peak, with minimal damage from recent freezes. Freeze-damaged sugarcane is being harvested and processed. In the central and southern peninsula, growers harvested potatoes. Due to freezing temperatures earlier this year, some vegetables were replanted. Growers laid plastic for spring vegetables. Cold weather slightly delayed field work. Seafood: Pompano, Spanish mackerel, tilefish, amberjack and stone crab claws are in good supply. Forestry: March 1-7 is “Prescribed Fire Awareness Week” in Florida. Prescribed fire is a beneficial tool to be used only by knowledgeable professionals meeting very strict guidelines. The Division of Forestry provides education on methods of burning safely and effectively. Vegetables: Most planting for the spring crop in southern counties is complete. Mature crops that survived the freeze have been harvested. Young vegetables currently in the ground struggled with recent cool temperatures. Snap beans, celery, sweet corn, cucumbers, eggplant, endive/escarole, peppers, radishes, squash, and tomatoes are being marketed. Citrus: Mild, typical seasonal weather was prevalent across the citrus region for the week. All citrus areas are abnormally dry and in need of rain. Only the northern areas had significant rainfall at just over one quarter of an inch. Hedging, topping, irrigating, fertilizing, aerial spraying and mowing continues. Harvesting of early and midseason oranges has slowed some due to availability. Early-mid processing will end in a couple of weeks with several plants planning to close in early March. Some growers in the southern areas are picking Valencia oranges earlier than expected, presumably to get them off the trees before heavy drop occurs due to last month’s freeze. Harvest of honey tangerines likely will be complete early in March due to the short crop, early start and cold snap. Some packinghouses have finished taking tangelos and Temples for the season. Livestock and Pastures: In the Panhandle area, pasture condition is mainly poor. Grass growth has been limited by low temperatures and drought. Forage from both winter small grains and woodland pasture is limited. Cool season pastures are recovering from the hard freezes earlier this month. Cattle condition is poor to excellent. In the northern areas, near-freezing temperatures slowed cool forage growth and supplemental hay feeding is active. In the central areas, pasture condition is mainly poor. Pastures were not affected by the cool temperatures. Cattle condition is poor to good. Ranchers are feeding hay. In the southwestern areas, pasture is very poor to good, but warm days are helping pastures green up a bit. Pastures are very short because of freezes and severe frost in January and February. Hay is beginning to run short. Also, due to the high cost of fertilizer, many ranchers planted less winter annual forage and now have to rely on hay. Cattle condition in the southwest is very poor to excellent. Statewide, cattle condition is predominantly fair to good.