Florida: Icy, Wet Weather Hampers Field Work – US-DA

    Crop Progress and Condition for the Week Ending February 2, 2014.

    Weather Summary: According to Florida’s Automated Weather Network (FAWN), the majority of the State received over an inch of rain this week. Wellington (West Palm Beach County) received the most rain with 3.47 an inch of rain. Maximum temperatures ranged from the 60s to the 80s, with the highest temperature in Sebring (Highlands County) at 87 degrees. The lowest temperatures in the State ranged from 15 degrees in Jay (Santa Rosa County) and 18 degrees in Defuniak Springs (Walton County) to 60 degrees in Fort Lauderdale (Broward County).

    Field Crops: Icy, cold, and wet weather hampered field work in the Panhandle. Sugarcane harvest was delayed due to rain this past week in Hendry, Palm Beach, and Glades counties.

    Fruit and Vegetables: Varying degrees of losses on vegetables and strawberries were reported throughout the State due to freezing temperatures. South Florida farmers reported damage to corn and green beans, with loss of corn in Palm Beach County. Strawberries were being harvested in Bradford County. Harvesting of cabbage began in Flagler and Putnam counties, while planting of potatoes continued.

    Soil preparation for watermelons was underway in Suwannee County. Farmers in Miami-Dade County were harvesting and planting winter vegetables. Vegetables and fruits marketed in the State included beets, cabbage, tomatoes, peppers, herbs, eggplant, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, snap beans, radishes, lettuce, kale, collards, and a variety of specialty items.

    Citrus: Rain was widespread in the citrus area this week. All stations recorded more than half an inch of rainfall. Wellington (Palm Beach County) recorded the most precipitation with 3.47 inches. Lecanto (Citrus County) recorded the least with 0.68 inches. Average temperatures were in the upper 50s to mid 60s through most of the citrus growing area. Growers and caretakers continued to irrigate due to dry conditions.

    As per the U.S. Drought Monitor, last updated January 28, 2014, abnormally dry conditions cover most of the southern growing areas and portions of the northern, central, and Indian River areas. The western growing area and the southern portion of the Indian River area remained drought free. The majority of the active commercial citrus groves in the State are drought free.

    Field workers reported small sizes on all varieties. Grove activity included harvesting, hedging and topping after harvest, resetting of new trees, pushing of dead groves and replanting new citrus, mowing, fertilizing, and psyllid control. Thirty-nine of 43 packinghouses had opened and begun shipping small quantities of fruit. Fifteen of nineteen processing plants had opened this season.

    Livestock and Pastures: Cold, icy weather in the Panhandle challenged livestock and slowed winter pasture growth. Ranchers in south Florida were pleased with the soaking rains that helped raise pond levels. The cattle condition for the State was fair to good but the pasture condition was mostly fair. Cattlemen were feeding hay and supplements across the State. Cold weather, frost, and drought throughout the State contributed to pasture decline. Cold weather was the main contributing factor for the pasture decline.

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