Florida: Spring Planting Prep Underway as Weather Permits – USDA

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    Crop Progress and Condition for the Week Ending February 21, 2016.

    Weather Summary: According to Florida’s Automated Weather Network (FAWN), rainfall ranged from 0.06 inch in Okahumpka, (Lake County), to 1.67 inch in Fort Lauderdale (Broward County). As per the U.S. Drought Monitor, last updated February 16, 2016, Florida was rated totally drought free.

    Temperatures ranged from 36 degrees in De Funiak (Walton County) for a State nighttime low, to 81 degrees in Fort Lauderdale (Broward County) for a State daytime high. Thunderstorms dropped over an inch of rain in most Charlotte County locations with a few growers reporting some hail damage.

    Field Crops: There was an average of 6.2 days suitable for field work this past week, equal to last week. Wet field conditions were reported in Brevard County. Some Washington County fields were dry enough for spring planting preparation. Sugarcane fields were not more saturated than previous week despite an early week storm, but the normal sugarcane harvest pace resumed in the afternoon and the latter portions of the week due to clear weather.

    Fruit and Vegetables: Some Dixie County melon fields were planted. Cabbage and leafy greens were harvested in Flagler County along with Irish potatoes fields planted. South Florida vegetable fields suffered from heavy rainfall which reduced volumes significantly in many instances. Rainy weather increased disease incidence in many vegetable crops. Warm and windy weather later in the week helped draw down water levels.

    Vegetables coming to south Florida markets included light volumes of beets, cabbage, collards, herbs, kale, peppers, potatoes, Swiss chard, squash, tomatoes, and specialty items. Tomato and pole beans were replanted due to earlier flooding.

    Citrus: Temperatures were about average this week, with daily highs in the upper 70s to lower 80s and nighttime lows in the 40s and 50s. Rainfall was about average in the Indian River District and the central and western citrus growing areas. The Northern area had very little rainfall, with most counties receiving less than two tenths of an inch, while the southern area counties all had higher than normal amounts of rainfall for this time of the year. The U.S. Drought Monitor for several weeks in a row now has been showing the complete citrus region as drought free.

    Harvesting of the non-Valencia oranges was winding down for the season. Most processing plants and packing houses have finished taking the early variety oranges and now moved to Valencia oranges. Honey tangerine harvest was off to a slow start this season.

    An estimated 200,000 boxes have been harvested so far, compared to over 450,000 boxes at the same time last season. Temples were now being harvested as Royal tangerines and were gaining ground in the fresh market. There are still plenty of red and white grapefruit groves that have been spot picked are were being cleaned for both the fresh and processed market.

    Bloom was reported across the citrus belt on oranges, but not on grapefruit. Caretakers were hedging and topping trees after harvest. Irrigation was being turned back on in areas that received little rainfall over the past week or two. Other grove activity included fertilizing and general grove maintenance.

    Livestock and Pastures: Jackson and Walton counties’ pastures were rated poor due to flooding and frost. Winter grazing pastures that survived the warm and/or wet conditions were starting to improve with the recent favorable weather. Pastures in Dixie, Orange, and Seminole counties were rated poor due to flooding, frost, and disease. Warmer weather and lengthening days has helped improve pasture quality marginally although many cattlemen provided supplemental feed to augment diminished available pasture forage in south Florida locations.

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