WEATHER: January 2003 brought significant rains to most
localities during the first week with most areas receiving from
one to two inches, except for the southeastern coast and extreme
southern Peninsula which remained dry. Cold temperatures crept
over the Peninsula during the first full week and stayed for most
of the month bringing hard freezes and frosts as far south as the
Everglades near the end of the month. Dry conditions for most of
the month increased the danger for wildfires. Strawberry growers
ran overhead sprinklers to form ice caps on plants as protection
from the cold which saved some immature fruit and most plants.
The freezing temperatures caused damage to some vegetables,
especially in the Everglades region, with some minor supply
shortages occurring and some acreage abandoned. Vegetable
harvesting continued throughout January with snap beans,
cabbage, celery, cilantro, sweet corn, cucumbers, eggplant,
endive, escarole, lettuce, miscellaneous herbs, parsley, peppers,
radishes, squash, tomatoes and a very light supply of carrots
Cool temperatures during the first half of February
slowed the development of vegetables while dry, windy conditions lowered soil moisture supplies. Significant rains fell around
mid-month and at the end. These showers replenished soil
moisture in most northern and central Peninsula and most
Panhandle localities but left some central and most southern
Peninsula areas dry. Temperatures warmed during the last halfof February which boosted vegetable growth, especially in
central and southern Peninsula localities. Potato digging started
in the southern Peninsula about mid-month.
During March, storms reduced the quality and yield
prospects of some vegetables. Soggy soils slowed potato digging
and caused some rot in some fields with most acreage adequately
draining off the excess moisture. The wet fields slowed the
preparation of land for watermelon and other vegetable planting
in the Panhandle and northern Peninsula. Cabbage cutting neared
the usual seasonal peak in mid-March as growers met the
increased demand for the St. Patrick's Day holiday. Drier
conditions for most of the month around Palmetto-Ruskin,
Immokalee and Homestead permitted vegetable planting and
harvesting to proceed with few delays. Strawberry picking
slowed about mid-month as supplies from other States increased.
Some snap bean growers stopped picking due to a poor market.
Cold temperatures at the end of March singed some tender
foliage in northern areas with most plants recovering well.
|This report reflects conditions as of April 1 and represents acreage for harvest during the spring months of April, May, June, and July.|
The prospective area for harvest of 11 selected fresh
market vegetables during the spring quarter is forecast at
217,100 acres, up 2 percent from last year. Acreage decreases
for snap beans, carrots, and head lettuce were more than offset
by acreage increases for broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, sweet
corn, cucumbers, bell peppers, and tomatoes. Celery acreage
remained the same. Melon acreage for spring harvest is forecast
at 78,800 acres, up 1 percent from last year's comparable States.
Cantaloup acreage is up 2 percent from a year ago. Honeydew
acreage is unchanged. Watermelon acreage is down 1 percent
from comparable States in 2002. Asparagus acreage for spring
harvest is forecast at 59,000 acres, down 11 percent from last
year. Strawberry acreage for spring harvest is forecast at 33,700
acres, up 4 percent from comparable States in 2002.
SNAP BEANS: Acreage for spring harvest is forecast at 23,000
acres, down 4 percent from last year. Florida growers are
harvesting the winter acreage and will soon start on the
spring crop. No major problems have been reported although
some growers stopped picking around mid-March due to low
prices. In Georgia, rains slowed land preparation and delayed
spring planting. Growers expect to harvest fewer acres this
CABBAGE: Acreage for spring harvest is forecast at 7,200
acres, up 1 percent from last year. Florida's crop is progressing
well with no major problems reported. In Georgia, rains and
wet soil slowed field preparations and delayed spring planting in
many areas. Growing conditions for the early cabbage crop in
New Jersey are favorable with recent mild temperatures and
adequate topsoil moisture. Texas growers are having a very good
season. Harvest began in some areas and crop quality is excellent.
SWEET CORN: Intended acreage for harvest is forecast at 38,000 acres, up 3 percent from last year's acreage. The California crop is doing very well and harvest in the Imperial Valley is expected to begin in early April, two weeks ahead of schedule. In Florida, mostly warm, wet weather prompted good growth and ear development.
CUCUMBERS: Spring harvested acreage is forecast at 5,800 acres, up 4 percent from 2002. Harvest of the Florida spring crop is underway. Recent rains and cool weather hurt quality and lowered expected yields. In Texas, fresh market, or slicer cucumbers continue to decline. However, conditions have been favorable this season.
BELL PEPPERS: Acreage for harvest is forecast at 8,800 acres, up 17 percent from 2002. Florida had mostly warm and wet weather during March which has promoted good growth and development although it did slow some planting activities. Texas bell pepper acreage is down due to competition from Mexico.
TOMATOES: Acreage for harvest is forecast at 28,900 acres, up 4 percent from 2002. In California, growers expect a good crop this season. Transplanting of seedlings started in late February and should continue through early April. No pest or disease problems have been reported thus far. Florida's warm temperatures during February and March helped growth and development. Recent heavy rains reduced yield prospects of some acreage, especially in the Palmetto-Ruskin region.
WATERMELONS: Acreage intended for harvest is forecast at 42,600 acres, down 1 percent from last year's comparable States. California's melon crop is progressing well with no major problems reported. Planting in Florida started in late February and early March with picking expected to begin in late May. Texas weather conditions have remained mild and damage was minimal from the freeze in February.
Vegetables for fresh market, prospective acreage for harvest, spring quarter
by States, 2003 with comparisons
|BELL PEPPERS: 1/|
|TOTAL OF CROPS LISTED|
|TOTAL OF CROPS ESTIMATED|
|United States 4/||304,400||297,200||295,900||100|
1/ Includes fresh market and processing.
2/ Seasonal estimate discontinued in 2002.
3/ Seasonal estimate discontinued. Estimate to be published in January 2004 annual.
4/ Total of crops listed plus broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, celery, escarole, head lettuce, cantaloups, and honeydew melons.