Crop Progress and Condition for the Week Ending February 16, 2014.
Weather Summary: According to Florida’s Automated Weather Network (FAWN), the majority of the State received a half inch or more of rain this week. Defuniak Springs (Walton County) received the most rain with 2.47 inches. Maximum temperatures ranged from the upper 60s to the 80s, with the highest temperature in Sebring (Highlands County) at 87 degrees. The lowest temperatures in the State ranged from 28 degrees in Lecanto (Citrus County) to 50 degrees in Fort Lauderdale (Broward County).
Field Crops: Cloudy, wet, and cold weather hampered field work and crop growth this past week. Small grains need sunshine to improve growth. Sugarcane harvest is entering the last six weeks of the harvest season.
Fruit and Vegetables: Strawberries were still being harvested in Bradford County. Harvesting of cabbage continued in Flagler and Putnam counties. Also in Flagler and Putnam counties, planting of potatoes continued but was behind schedule. Harvesting of green beans, tomatoes, squash, peppers, eggplant, sweet corn, Chinese vegetables, and bonito (Cuban sweet potatoes) began in Miami-Dade County. Vegetables and fruits marketed in the State included beets, cabbage, cucumbers, eggplant, kale, lettuce, peppers, radishes, sweet corn, snap beans, tomatoes, herbs, and a variety of specialty items.
Citrus: Rain was widespread but generally light in the citrus area this week. Okeechobee (Okeechobee County) recorded the most precipitation with 1.42 inches. Balm (Hillsborough County) recorded the least with 0.12 inches recorded. Daytime temperatures reached the mid 60s to upper 70s throughout most of the citrus growing area on several days last week. As per the U.S. Drought Monitor, last updated February 11, 2014, abnormally dry conditions have retreated to cover only a small portion of the northern and Indian River areas.
Field workers reported small sizes on all varieties. Some growers are noticing various sizes in the same blocks, from slightly larger than golfball size to larger than baseball size on oranges. Grove activity included harvesting on mostly early oranges and grapefruit, hedging and topping after harvest, care for new trees, and pulling out declining or dead trees.
Growers in the Indian River area were experimenting with tenting young trees to eradicate or control the psyllid population that is causing greening. Other methods were being used or tested to keep unaffected trees from getting the Huanglongbing, (HLB, Citrus Greening) virus.
Fifteen of nineteen processing plants were open this season. Almost all packing houses had opened and were shipping fruit.
Livestock and Pastures: Cold weather in the Panhandle challenged livestock and slowed winter pasture growth again this week. The rains in south Florida helped raise pond levels. The cattle condition for the State was good but the pasture condition was mostly fair. Cattlemen were feeding hay across the State.