The Week in Florida Agriculture
March 2-8, 2009
Strawberries are being harvested. Dry and unusually cold weather continues to adversely affect pasture and winter forage. Planting of pine trees continues. Small grains are in good condition. Low soil moisture threatens rye grass growth. Broccoli and cabbage harvests having good yields. Early-planted potatoes escaped cold damage, but newly emerging plants received some damage. Freezes early in the week slowed growth of forages. Strawberries are being harvested. Watermelons are being planted. The drought is worsening. Sporadic wildfires continue. Strawberries are being harvested. Seafood: Medium and small stone crab claws are plentiful. Forestry: Lack of rainfall during the last six months has significantly increased the wildfire danger throughout the state. Extra careful urged with all pile and broadcast burning. Avoid unnecessary outdoor burning. Check with local Division of Forestry office or county government to determine if there is a local burn ban in effect. Vegetables: Producers in northern areas continue preparing land for spring crops. Dry conditions are delaying some planting and are causing producers to irrigate throughout the state. Some vegetables in the fields sustained minor frost damage. The volume of vegetables moving through the market is slightly reduced due to recent drought and cold stress. Vegetables marketed include tomatoes, sweet corn, snap beans, squash, sweet potatoes, greens, celery, eggplant, endive/escarole, peppers and radishes. Citrus: A cold front moved across the state early Sunday morning bringing with it much cooler temperatures throughout the citrus-producing areas. Kenansville and Palmdale both recorded early morning lows in the high 20s. A gradual warming trend returned Tuesday with temperatures climbing to the low 80s in the central and southern regions. Many areas, especially in the south, have not had any appreciable precipitation in two months and are experiencing drought conditions. Fort Pierce has lacked significant rainfall since December. With the warmer temperatures returning many trees are showing new growth, new leaves, and a small amount of bloom. Hedging, topping, irrigating, fertilizing, aerial spraying, and mowing continue. The Valencia harvest has begun with packinghouses taking late oranges in small quantities while the processing of the early and midseason varieties has slowed significantly. Honey tangerine harvest expected to finish early. Livestock and Pastures: Pasture condition throughout the state declined due to drought and freezing temperatures. Much winter forage has yet to recover from frost of recent weeks and summer pasture has not yet started to grow due the cold. In the Panhandle area, pasture condition is very poor to good. Because of poor grass growing conditions, cattle are being fed hay to supplement their diet. Cattle condition is poor to excellent. In the northern areas, pasture is mainly in poor condition. Cool-season forage is doing moderately well. In the central areas, pasture condition is mainly fair. Cattle are being fed hay, and hay prices are reported high. Stock watering pond levels are low and some have dried up. Pastures are very short. Smaller cattle operations are selling some cattle due to the short pasture and the high hay prices. Cattle condition is very poor to good. Pasture in the southwest is very poor to fair. Supplemental irrigation is being used where available. Statewide, cattle condition is mainly fair.