Florida: Early Planting Underway – USDA

    Crop Progress and Condition for the Week Ending March 6, 2015.

    Weather Summary: According to Florida’s Automated Weather Network (FAWN), rainfall ranged from no rainfall in numerous stations to 1.32 inch De Funiak (Walton County). FAWN average rainfall was 0.17 inch. Only four FAWN stations reported over half an inch of rainfall for the week. As per the U.S. Drought Monitor, last updated March 1, 2016, Florida was rated 92 percent totally drought free compared to 100 percent the previous week. Pinellas County reported rainfall is needed.

    Temperatures ranged from 37 degrees in Jay (Santa Rosa County) for a State nighttime low, to 84 degrees in Palmdale (Glades County) for a State daytime high.

    Field Crops: There was an average of 6.2 days suitable for field work this past week, compared to 6.1 days last week. A dry weak had soil moisture levels at suitable conditions in south Florida. Planting and harvesting activities returned to normal. Sugarcane harvest pace increased due to favorable drier conditions.

    Fruit and Vegetables: Some watermelon fields were seeded in Dixie and Levy county fields. Leafy greens and cabbage were harvested in Flagler and Putnam counties as Irish potato planting activities finished. Drier conditions reduced disease pressure in many areas. Miami-Dade County crops harvested included green beans, yellow squash, zucchini, sweet corn, tomato, eggplant, pepper, herbs, boniata, Malanga, avocado, and other tropical fruits. All vegetable fields were irrigated.

    Citrus: Temperatures were about average for this time of the year. Most mornings were in the low 50s while highs reached the upper 70s to lower 80s. Rainfall was relatively non-existent for the entire week. Thirteen of eighteen monitored stations in the Citrus region showed no rainfall, and only one had more than a tenth of an inch of rainfall. Even with the abnormally dry weather over the past couple of weeks, the U.S. Drought Monitor, last updated March 1, 2016 shows all areas drought free.

    All processing plants transitioned from early-midseason oranges to the later variety Valencia oranges. Only a few plants processed grapefruit, mostly eliminations, from groves spot picked for fresh fruit, or fruit from groves that had initially been spot picked and were being cleaned up a final time. Packinghouses were accepting Valencia oranges, Honey tangerines, tangelos, and grapefruit.

    Trees in well cared groves looked healthy. Growers were removing dead or dying trees in most areas. Bloom was in various stages across the citrus region. Some trees that had bloomed early already had small fruit forming on the trees. Other groves had only a few white bloom pedals on healthy trees. Caretakers were hedging and topping trees after harvest. Some growers were fertilizing and spraying.

    Limited mowing, mostly before harvest was done on an as needed basis. Irrigation was turned back on in areas that have received little rainfall over the past few weeks. Other grove activity included fertilizing and general grove maintenance.

    Livestock and Pastures: Lee County pastures dried out as cattle had access to pastures. Additional available forage was due to drier and warmer conditions with longer daylight hours. Reports of less required supplemental feeding were common in many localities. Drier conditions placed less stress on young and newborn calves.

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