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(January, February, March)
January 10, 2005

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


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 October.
  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
Selected crops
and States
Winter acreage 2005 area
for harvest
as percent
of 2004
Harvested For
2003 2004
  Acres Percent
Snap Beans:
  Florida Jan-Mar 11,600 12,000 11,500 96
  Florida Jan-Mar 5,300 5,300 5,000 91
  Texas Dec-Mar 6,100 7,200 9,200 128
    Total 11,400 12,500 14,200 114  
Sweet Corn:
  Florida Jan-Mar 7,900 8,400 7,800 93
Bell Pepper: 1/
  Florida Jan-Mar 5,800 6,100 6,300 103
  Florida Jan-Mar 12,600 13,000 12,500 96
  California Jan-Mar 19,500 20,000 19,800 99
  Texas Dec-Mar 1,000 1,100 1,900 173
    Total   20,500 21,100 21,700 103
Head Lettuce:
  Arizona--Western Nov-Apr 47,000 46,500 45,500 98
  California Jan-Mar 16,000 16,000 18,000 113
    Total 63,000 62,500 63,500 102
Broccoli: 1/
  California Jan-Mar 25,500 27,500 29,000 105
Cauliflower: 1/
  California Jan-Mar 7,500 8,500 8,600 101
Celery: 1/
  California Jan-Mar 7,500 7,600 7,500 99
  Texas Dec-Mar 1,700 2,000 2,100 105
  Florida 43,200 44,800 43,100 96
  United States 175,000 181,200 184,700 102
  Florida Dec-May 7,100 7,100 7,300 103
1/ Includes fresh market and processing.

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