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(January, February, March)
January 13, 2003

USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service   |  1222 Woodward Street   |  Orlando, Florida 32803   |  407 / 648-6013


This report reflects conditions as of January 1 and repre sents acreage for harvest during the winter months of January, February, March. Estimated acreage for harvest by growing area is no longer available.

WEATHER: Mostly dry weather prevailed in early October as Hurricane Lili rushed northward through the Gulf pulling rains away from the Peninsula. Fall crop harvesting in the central and southern Peninsula got underway by early October with a light volume of cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, squash and watermelons available. Tomato picking in the East Coast, Ruskin and Immokalee areas began around mid-to-late month. By the end of the month, sweet corn harvesting started in the Everglades and snap bean picking began in northern areas. Warm weather during the month delayed strawberry maturation with growers nearly finishing transplanting by the end of the month.

Fall crop harvesting gained momentum as November arrived with growers trying to meet the Thanksgiving Day demand. Strawberry producers finished transplanting early in the month and started picking very light supplies. Warm temperatures hindered strawberry fruit development during the first half of the month. Heavy rains around mid-month delayed field work, especially around Immokalee, and lowered the quality and yield prospects of some crops, especially tomatoes.

Cool temperatures prevailed over most localities during December. Freezes and frosts arrived in many localities, except for the southern Peninsula, beginning in some Panhandle and northern Peninsula areas during the first week. Most temperatures during the month averaged from one to seven degrees below normal in the major cities. The cooler temperatures aided the development of strawberries. Storms crossing over the Panhandle and Peninsula nearly every week brought abundant moisture to many Panhandle and northern and central Peninsula localities. Some southern Peninsula areas, especially those along the southeastern coast, remained dry. The stronger storms lowered the quality and yield prospects of some vegetables growing in the central and southern Peninsula with most shipments below last year's volume. The rains interrupted planting and picking schedules throughout the month.

TOMATOES: Producers hope to harvest 12,600 acres during the winter months of January, February and March, up 100 acres from the acreage picked during the winter of 2002. Frequent storms delayed some planting and lowered the yield prospects during October through December. Most of the southern Peninsula growing areas (Immokalee, Homestead, Jupiter and Stuart) escaped freezing temperatures which were felt in many Panhandle and northern and central Peninsula areas during December. Picking remained active through most of October, November and December with volume down slightly due to reduced yields.

SWEET CORN: Growers expect to pick 7,900 acres through March, down 100 acres from the acreage harvested last winter. The frequent rains during November and December boosted growth and ear development. Picking is active.

BELL PEPPER: Producers expect to harvest 6,000 acres this winter, up 400 acres or 7 percent from the 5,600 acres picked a year ago. Frequent rainfall during October, November and December interrupted some planting and harvesting activities, and lowered yield prospects. Picking is active with volume down a little from last year.

STRAWBERRIES: Strawberry acreage at 7,100 acres, is up three percent from 2002. Harvest started near the middle of November. Growers ran sprinklers during the cold period of January 7th and 8th with some minor water damage reported. Early volume is down from last year due partly to the switch to later maturing vaieties.

SNAP BEANS: Harvested acreage is expected to total 12,500 acres, up 500 acres from last year. Harvest is active with good quality reported.

CABBAGE: Producers hope to cut 5,500 acres through March, the same level as last year. Harvest is underway with no major problems and the crop is in good condition.


The prospective area for harvest of 11 selected fresh market vegetables during the winter quarter is forecast at 185,200 acres. This is 4 percent above 2002 but 2 percent below 2001 for comparable commodities. Acreage increases for snap beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, head lettuce, bell pepper, spinach, and tomatoes more than offset decreases for carrots and sweet corn. Celery acreage remained the same.

CABBAGE: Winter acreage for harvest is forecast at 13,200 acres, 6 percent above 2002 and 11 percent above 2001. Texas cabbage production continues to flourish and yield is expected to be good this season due to excellent weather conditions.

CARROTS: Winter harvested acreage is forecast at 23,500 acres, virtually unchanged from last year but 6 percent below two years ago. The California crop is reported in good condition with no major problems. High demand for baby carrots continues. In Texas, growers are expecting better yields due to a new hybrid carrot planted this season.

HEAD LETTUCE: Area for harvest is forecast at 67,000 acres, up 4 percent from last year but virtually unchanged from two years ago. Arizona growers are dealing with the typical pests and diseases in the crop. In some areas, warm weather has accelerated crop growth and caused marketing of the crop to begin too early creating depressed prices. California's harvest began early in some areas of the Imperial Valley. Harvest typically runs December 15 through March 15, but began the last week of November this year. The crop is reported in good condition but wet conditions did slow field activity in some areas the last two weeks of December.

STRAWBERRIES: Spring acreage in Michigan and Oregon is forecast at 4,500 acres, unchanged from 2002 but 6 percent below 2001. In Michigan, winter snowfall and temperatures have been average to date. The crop in Oregon is progressing well with no problems reported.

Selected Fresh Market Vegetables and Strawberries: Area for Harvest by Crop, State, and
  Total, Winter Season, 2001-2002 and Forecasted Area 2003
Selected crops
and States
Winter acreage 2003 area
for harvest
as percent
of 2002
Harvested For
2001 2002
  Acres Percent
  Florida Jan-Mar 11,000 12,000 12,500 104
  Florida Jan-Mar 5,000 5,500 5,500 100
  Texas Dec-Mar 6,900 6,900 7,700 116
    Total 11,900 12,400 13,200 106
  Florida Jan-Mar 7,400 8,000 7,900 99
  Florida Jan-Mar 500      
  Florida Jan-Mar 4,400 5,600 6,000 107
  Florida Jan-Mar 14,000 12,500 12,600 101
  California Jan-Mar 23,000 21,500 21,500 100
  Texas Dec-Mar 2,000 2,100 2,000 95
    Total 25,000 23,600 23,500 99
  Arizona--Western Nov-Apr 51,800 50,000 52,000 104
  California Jan-Mar 15,000 14,500 15,000 103
    Total 66,800 64,500 67,000 104
  California Jan-Mar 29,500 22,000 23,500 107
  California Jan-Mar 9,500 8,000 9,000 112
  California Jan-Mar 7,700 7,500 7,500 100
  Texas Dec-Mar 2,500 2,200 2,500 114
  Florida 42,300 43,600 44,500 102
  United States 190,200 178,300 185,200 104
  Florida Dec-May 6,500 6,900 7,100 103
1/ Estimate discontinued in 2002.
2/ Includes fresh market and processing.

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