The Week in Florida Agriculture
January 4-10, 2010
Freezing conditions across the Panhandle and northern counties brought fieldwork almost to a halt. Potato planting has been further delayed. In the central Peninsula, ferns received significant damage. Tropical fish operations suffered losses due to freezing temperatures. Several nights of sub-freezing temperatures caused extensive damage to vegetable crops. Freezing temperatures damaged fields with ripening fruit and plants setting blooms, which will impact harvest over the next few weeks. Harvest is at a virtual standstill. Sugarcane crop was damaged. Weather Summary: Freezing temperatures, little rainfall. Seafood: Cold weather continues to limit the harvest of many wild species. Only red snapper, swordfish and oysters are plentiful this week. Forestry: Landowners are beginning to plant bare-root tree seedlings. Forestry officials remind landowners who are preparing for dormant season prescribed burning to develop plans and obtain authorizations. Vegetables: Vegetables harvested prior to the freeze and moving through the markets include snap beans, cabbage, celery, sweet corn, cucumbers, eggplant, endive, escarole, peppers, radishes, squash, tomatoes, and strawberries. To assist growers, a state of emergency for agricultural crops was issued January 5. As a result, highway restrictions on truck weights and size were eased to speed the harvest, and limitations on irrigation were eased to help protect crops from freezing. Livestock and Pastures: Cold and freezing temperatures caused severe damage to pastures throughout the state. Supplemental hay feeding is required in most areas. Pasture condition is mostly poor in all regions. Cattle producers are relying on by-products and stored forages for their herdís nutritive and roughage requirements. Hay is being trucked in. Statewide, cattle condition is very poor to excellent, with most fair to good. Citrus: Many areas in the citrus-producing region reported very low temperatures this week, making freeze damage a possibility. All packinghouses are open. Varieties being packed include early oranges (Navel and Hamlin), white and colored grapefruit, and tangerines (predominately Sunburst and Murcotts, with a few Dancys). Seventeen processors are open and accepting fruit. Plants are running at or near capacity. Early and midseason oranges and grapefruit comprise the majority of fruit going to the plants. Other than harvesting and standard practices, grove activity included increased grove irrigation to protect as much fruit as possible from the cold temperatures.