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(January, February, March)
January 9, 2004

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: Dry weather returned during October with the harvesting of very light amounts of cucumbers, eggplant, okra, peppers, squash and watermelons active during most of the month. Frequent rains in the Homestead area during the month reduced the effectiveness of pesticides, thus increasing insect populations. Sweet corn picking started during mid to late October in the Everglades region. Dry conditions continued during most of November and December prompting producers to irrigate in drier areas of the central and southern Peninsula. Strawberry growers finished most transplanting by early November and started picking light amounts of berries by Thanksgiving Day. Temperatures remained warm during the first half of November but dipped to freezing levels in many Panhandle and northern and central Peninsula localities beginning in late November and continuing through most of December. The cooler temperatures aided strawberry development around Plant City but brought most Panhandle and northern Peninsula harvesting to an end by early December. Snap bean picking increased slowly during November as more acreage reached maturity. Tomato harvesting gained momentum in the Palmetto-Ruskin, Immokalee and East Coast growing areas. Potato field preparations continued around Hastings during the month with planting active by the end. Harvesting of leafy crops got underway during late November in the Everglades and in some central Peninsula localities. Cabbage cutting and broccoli harvesting remained active in the Hastings area during December. By mid-December northern growers started land preparations for the planting of spring crop watermelons. Heavy rains in some central and southern Peninsula localities near mid- month slowed planting and lowered the quality of the more tender crops. In late December, light frosts and freezes occurred in some central and southern Peninsula localities. The cooler temperatures brought fall crop okra harvesting to an end in Miami-Dade County as snap bean picking got underway. Celery cutting became active in the Everglades area during late December.

Tomatoes: Producers expect to pick 12,000 acres during the winter months of January, February and March, down 600 acres or about five percent from last winter. Mostly clear, warm weather during October, November and December boosted growth and development and allowed planting and harvesting to proceed normally. Picking in the Quincy area remained active throughout October and most of November. Growers in the Palmetto-Ruskin, East Coast and Immokalee areas began harvesting in mid to late November. Spotty but heavy rains falling in the Palmetto-Ruskin region and a few southern Peninsula areas around mid-December caused no significant damage but lowered some fruit quality.

Sweet Corn: Growers hope to pick 8,400 acres for the winter crop, up 500 acres or six percent from last winter. Mostly dry weather during October, November and December permitted growers to keep planting on schedule. Picking started in mid to late October.

Bell Pepper: Acreage to be harvested for the winter crop is set at 5,100 acres, down 700 acres or 12 percent from last year, Mostly dry and warm weather over the central and southern Peninsula aided crop development and allowed planting to proceed on schedule during October through most of December. Most acreage escaped significant damage from spotty but heavy rains falling in the Palmetto-Ruskin region and over a few southern Peninsula localities after mid-December. Harvesting remained active as growers fulfilled holiday market demands.

Strawberries: Strawberry acreage at 7,100 acres is the same as last year. Planting this year was mostly normal and good weather has followed. The crop looks good. Current cool weather is making berries sweeter and growers are expecting a good crop.

Snap Beans: Harvested acreage is forecast at 11,000 acres, down 600 acres from last year. Cool, wet weather slowed harvesting of the crop with shipments reported down so far this crop year.

Cabbage: Growers intend to harvest 5,300 acres of cabbage through March, the same as last year. Harvesting recently started and is running behind last year. Cooler weather slowed the crop progression and shipments are just beginning. The crop appears to be in good shape with no major problems reported.


  The prospective area for harvest of 11 selected fresh market vegetables during the winter quarter is forecast at 181,400 acres. This is 1 percent above 2003 but 1 percent below 2002. Acreage increases for broccoli, sweet corn, cauliflower, cabbage, head lettuce and celery more than offset decreases for Bell pepper, spinach, snap beans, tomatoes, and carrots. Strawberry acreage planted for major States (Florida, Michigan, and Oregon) in 2004 is forecast at 11,700, down 2 percent from the same States in 2003.

Cabbage: Winter acreage for harvest is forecast at 12,500 acres, 2 percent above 2003 and up 1 percent from 2002.

Celery: The winter celery crop for harvest in California is forecast at 7,600 acres, up 1 percent from last year and the year before. The quality of the celery crop is good with no pest or disease problems. Hot weather in October could delay thesouthern California desert harvest by a couple of weeks. Yields are reported as being normal to above normal in most growing areas of the central coast.

Head Lettuce: Area for harvest is forecast at 63,500 acres, up 1 percent from last year but 2 percent below two years ago. Growing conditions in western Arizona have varied greatly. During the growing season, above average temperatures resulted in seeders and some fields being plowed under. Conditions returned to normal for a week or two and then temperatures dropped below average resulting in a drop in production. California growers in the Imperial Valley experienced cool nighttime temperatures during December 2003 which hindered crop development. Harvest progressed more slowly than usual as a result. However, warmer weather followed causing accelerated growth of the lettuce crop and increased supplies.

Selected Fresh Market Vegetables and Strawberries: Area for Harvest by Crop, State, and
  Total, Winter Season, 2002-2003 and Forecasted Area 2004
Selected crops
and States
Winter acreage 2004 area
for harvest
as percent
of 2003
Harvested For
2002 2003
  Acres Percent
  Florida Jan-Mar 12,000 11,600 11,000 95
  Florida Jan-Mar 5,500 5,300 5,300 100
  Texas Dec-Mar 6,900 7,000 7,200 103
    Total 12,400 12,300 12,500 102
  Florida Jan-Mar 8,400 7,900 8,400 106
  Florida Jan-Mar 5,600 5,800 5,100 88
  Florida Jan-Mar 12,500 12,600 12,000 95
  California Jan-Mar 21,500 21,500 21,000 98
  Texas Dec-Mar 2,100 1,000 1,000 100
    Total 23,600 22,500 22,000 98
  Arizona--Western Nov-Apr 50,000 47,000 47,500 101
  California Jan-Mar 14,500 16,000 16,000 100
    Total 64,500 63,000 63,500 101
  California Jan-Mar 25,500 26,500 29,000 109
  California Jan-Mar 8,800 8,500 8,800 104
  California Jan-Mar 7,500 7,500 7,600 101
  Texas Dec-Mar 2,200 1,700 1,500 88
  Florida 44,000 43,200 41,800 97
  United States 183,000 179,900 181,400 101
  Florida Dec-May 6,900 7,100 7,100 100
1/ Includes fresh market and processing.

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