The Week in Florida Agriculture
February 23 - March 1, 2009
Growers continue to prepare land for spring planting. Hay is in adequate supply. Some growers used frost protection for strawberry crop. Greens are being harvested. Onion crop is in good condition. Cabbage and broccoli harvest continues; quality is good. Potato plants are up, but growers are concerned about the effects the cold front. Greens, broccoli and beets are being harvested. Sweet corn is being planted. Strawberries and greens are being harvested. Heavy movement of strawberries in Plant City; supply and demand are good. Strawberries are at their peak. Watermelon crop is being evaluated for frost damage. Harvest of damaged sugarcane continues. Vegetable planting in Immokalee is complete. Beans and squash are being planted. Tomatoes and squash are being harvested. Squash, eggplant, peppers, beans and corn are being harvested in Pompano. Seafood: Florida pompano is plentiful. Vegetables: Vegetables in the fields look good but production is slow due to lack of rain. Celery, endive, lettuce and tomatoes are being marketed. Forestry: The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is hosting landowner meetings across the state March 2-12 to provide information on expanded opportunities for agriculture and forest landowners under the 2008 Farm Bill. Check with local NRCS offices for schedule. Livestock and Pastures: Forage growth is limited throughout the state by cold temperatures and drought. In the Panhandle area, pasture condition is very poor to excellent. Cold temperatures have limited ryegrass, oat and wheat forage growth. Cattle condition is fair to good. In the northern areas, cold temperatures have limited forage growth. Pasture and cool season forages are very short. More cattle are being fed hay. Hay supplies are adequate, but cost is increasing. In the central areas, pasture condition is mostly poor to fair. Drought is limiting forage growth. Permanent pasture is dormant and planted pasture is not yielding as much as normal. Cattle condition is mostly poor. Pasture in the southwest is poor to fair. Dry soil conditions have hampered pasture recovery. Pasture and forage continue to be depleted as a result of drought and cool temperatures. Most of the cattle in the southwest are in poor to fair condition. Statewide, cattle condition is fair to good. CITRUS: All citrus areas experienced a warming trend beginning on Tuesday. Temperatures reached the low- to mid-80s by the weekend, before a cool front began pushing in early Sunday morning. All citrus areas continue to be abnormally dry and in need of rainfall. Most areas have not had significant rainfall since mid-January. Fort Pierce has not had ample rains since mid-December. With the warmer afternoons, many trees have new, small shoots and are forming new leaves. With the exception of some weaker trees, no areas have begun budding. Growers are hedging, topping, irrigating, fertilizing, aerial spraying and mowing. Harvesting of early and midseason fruit has slowed significantly due to availability. Some growers in the southern areas are beginning to pick Valencia oranges. Honey tangerines will most likely be finished early in March due to the short crop, early start and cold snap. Some packinghouses have finished taking tangelos and Temples for the season. Drought Update: For most of the state, dryness and drought levels remained unchanged. Declining stream flows and slowly worsening precipitation deficits is resulting in moderate drought farther south. Moderate drought is expanding into parts of southwestern and east-central Florida, with a some of severe drought resulting along the southeastern coastline in the Miami and Palm Beach areas. This past winter has been one of the driest on record at many locations, pushing soil moisture, lake levels, fire danger and other reflections of surface moisture to critically low levels. Hydrologic concerns, which tend to respond to precipitation on longer time scales and typically arise during the wetter time of year (late spring through late autumn), are less critical at this juncture, but could decline quickly should dry weather persist through the next few months.