This report reflects conditions as of January 1 and represents acreage for harvest during the winter months of January, February, March.
WEATHER: Drier conditions over most of the Peninsula and
Panhandle localities allowed field work to advance rapidly in early
October with some central and southern Peninsula fields still saturated
by Hurricane Jeanne. Harvesting of vegetables was delayed up to three
weeks later than traditional schedules due to planting delays caused by
the September tropical storms. Fall crop harvesting gradually
increased during October in central and southern Peninsula areas with
light supplies of okra, pickles, squash, and watermelons available.
Snap beans, sweet corn, eggplant and pepper harvesting was underway
by mid-month. Tomato harvesting was active all month around the
Quincy area and began in southern Peninsula areas by the end of the
month. Warm weather during the month delayed strawberry maturation.
Temperatures were mostly one to seven degrees above normal for
Harvesting of fall crops increased moderately in November with growers trying to meet the Thanksgiving demand. Favorable weather conditions existed from early to mid-month which allowed field work and harvesting to proceed at a normal pace in central and southern Peninsula areas. Producers picked snap beans, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, pickles and squash. Light supplies of sweet corn, okra, radishes, strawberries and watermelons were also available during the month. Tomato picking in the Quincy region was complete by the end of the month as harvesting gained momentum over the central and southern Peninsula.
As December arrived, temperatures dipped into the 30s in many areas but caused no significant damage to crops. Cooler temperatures aided strawberry development but slowed the maturation of other crops. Cool and mostly dry weather during the first part of the month in the major vegetable producing areas allowed field work to progress normally. Frost and freezing temperatures dipped into some Panhandle, central and northern Peninsula localities after mid-December with temperatures plummeting into the 30s and 20s. These freezes caused no significant damage to crops. Vegetables and non-citrus fruit marketed throughout the month included snap beans, cabbage, sweet corn, cucumbers, eggplant, endive, escarole, lettuce, okra, peppers, radishes, strawberries, squash and tomatoes. In late December, celery harvesting was underway in the Everglades region. Mostly mild, dryweather during early January boosted crop development and allowed planting and harvesting to proceed on schedule.
Tomatoes: Producers hope to pick 12,500 acres during the winter
months of January, February, and March, down 500 acres from last
winter's acreage. Tropical storms in prior months as well as in October
caused some damage to the quality and yield of the tomatoes around
the Quincy region. Growers in central and southern Peninsula
localities began harvesting in early to mid-November. Picking
remained active through most of October, November and December
with volume down slightly due to reduced yields. Wet weather along
with cold temperatures in late December lowered the quality for some
of the winter crop.
Sweet Corn: Growers expect to harvest 7,800 acres through March,
down 600 acres from the acreage harvested last winter. Mostly
favorable weather conditions allowed harvesting to remain on schedule
during the season.
Bell Pepper: Mostly mild weather from October through December
increased plant growth and development and allowed planting to
proceed at a normal pace in the growing areas around Immokalee,
Jupiter and Stuart. Producers expect to harvest 6,300 acres this winter,
up 3 percent from the 6,100 acres picked a year ago.
Strawberries: Harvesting started near the middle of November.
The strawberry crop was slightly behind schedule due to the continual
tropical systems which delayed the planting. Despite the delay,
strawberry acreage is up 200 acres at 7,300 acres. Some strawberry
growers ran overhead irrigation to protect the plants from the cold
temperatures around mid-December. Growers welcomed cooler
temperatures throughout November and December, which aided fruit
development and maturation.
Snap Beans: Harvested acreage is forecast at 11,500 acres, down 500
acres or 4 percent from 2004. Cool, windy conditions at the end of
November and again at the end of December, slowed harvesting, but
caused no significant damage.
Cabbage: Producers hope to cut 5,000 acres through March. Acreage is down 300 acres from last year. Harvesting lagged behind schedule due to cooler temperatures in late November and late December, which slowed development. Cutting gained momentum during early January as warmer and mostly drier weather arrived.
The prospective area for harvest of 11 selected fresh market
vegetables during the winter quarter is forecast at 184,700 acres. This
is 2 percent above 2004 and 6 percent greater than 2003. Acreage
increases for cabbage, broccoli, spinach, bell pepper, carrots, head
lettuce, and cauliflower more than offset decreases for sweet corn,
tomatoes, snap beans, and celery. Strawberry area planted for major
States (Florida and Oregon) in 2005 is forecast at 10,400 acres,
unchanged for the same States in 2004.
Cabbage: Winter acreage for harvest is forecast at 14,200 acres,
14 percent above 2004 and up 25 percent from 2003. In Texas, harvest
is progressing well.
Celery: The winter celery crop for harvest in California is forecast
at 7,500 acres, down 1 percent from last year but unchanged from the
year before. The quality of the celery crop is good at this time.
However, there were delays early in the season when rain disruptedtransplanting. Heavy rainfall in December disrupted harvest and there
was some flood damage in the Oxnard area. The excess moisture has
leached nutrients from the soil and farmers will have to take measures
to avoid pith problems in the coming weeks.
Head Lettuce: Area for harvest is forecast at 63,500 acres, up 2 percent from last year and 1 percent above the year before. In Arizona, rainfall during planting had a minimal effect on the lettuce crop. The winter crop in Arizona is grown in the western areas which usually receive less rainfall than other areas of the State. The California desert lettuce crop is experiencing quality problems due to cold, wet weather conditions. Misshapen heads and ground rot have been reported. Some areas have had freezing temperatures which is expected to have a negative effect on quality. Supplies have been plentiful but poor quality has lowered prices causing growers to curtail harvest in an attempt to strengthen the market.
Selected Fresh Market Vegetables and Strawberries: Area for Harvest by Crop, State, and
Total, Winter Season, 2003-2004 and Forecasted Area 2005
|Bell Pepper: 1/|
|TOTAL OF CROPS LISTED|
1/ Includes fresh market and processing.