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(January, February, March)

January 21, 1997

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 through March. Estimated acreage for harvest by growing areas is presented in order: area, previous year (1996), current year (1997).

WEATHER: Field work slowed in most areas as Tropical Storm Josephine and Hurricane Lili brought rain and wind during early and mid-October. This adverse weather lowered yield prospects. Milder conditions from late October into early November aided the recovery of plants and let growers get field work back on schedule. The passage of cold fronts over the Peninsula during early Novem ber dipped some temperatures into the 30s and 40s. High pressure to the north and low pressure to the south brought windy weather to most regions around mid-November with temperatures averaging up to eleven degrees below normal. These strong, gusty winds and blowing sand damaged some crops with fruit scarred, plants dehydrated, and foliage burned and broken in many areas. East Coast fields with wind breaks escaped significant harm from these winds. Warmer, drier weather during late November and most of December sped crop harvesting. Winter cold arrived in all areas after mid-December with snow falling in some Panhandle and northern localities. Lowest temperatures were in the 20s in some western Panhandle, northern, and north central areas. Hard frosts brought an end to most crop picking in the north. Most southern Peninsula crops escaped significant damage due to the short duration of near freezing temperatures. Some strawberry growers around Plant City ran overhead sprinklers to protect plants and immature berries from harm. The cold singed some southern Peninsula crops. Warmer temperatures from late December into early January aided plant recovery and caused fruit to mature rapidly, while below normal rainfall increased the need for irrigation.

TOMATOES: The rain and wind around mid-October increased bloom drop which lowered the yield potential. The Palmetto-Ruskin area escaped significant damage as picking of the fall crop began. Southwestern and southeastern growers started harvesting during late October and early November. Cold winds around mid-Novem ber caused fruit scarring, plant dehydration, and foliage to burn and break in many southern localities with most younger plants escaping significant damage. Dade County growers started picking a very small acreage in early December. Heavy rain in early December slowed some activity in all southern areas. Most southern Peninsula acreage escaped damage from the winter cold spell that arrived after mid-December. Warm and mostly dry weather during late December and early January aided plant growth and development with harvesting near the peak level to meet the holiday demands. Picking in the Palmetto-Ruskin area was virtually completed by early January. (Southwest, 6,800, 6,400; Dade, 3,100, 2,700; East Coast, 1,800, 1,900; all areas, 11,700, 11,000)

SNAP BEANS: Weather and crop conditions have been mostly favorable for the winter crop. Cold winds in the southwest in December burned some leaves and increased bloom drop but most plants recovered. Harvesting and planting continue to be active. Yield and quality are good. (Southeast, 9,000, 9,000; Southwest and Everglades, 1,000, 1,000; all areas, 10,000, 10,000)

STRAWBERRIES: Strawberry crop development has proceeded very favorably this season. Harvest started in December and has progressed very well. No major weather or other problems have occurred thus far. A high quality, good volume crop is expected. (All areas, 6,000, 6,100)

SWEET CORN: Winds tossed some plants in southern areas during early October with most foliage recovering. Everglades producers began light harvesting by mid-October. Rainfall caused no signifi cant damage to plants around mid-October, but did delay some field work. The October rains leached some fertilizer from Dade County fields with growers replacing the chemicals after the bad weather passed. The oldest acreage in Dade County started tasseling in late October. Winds around mid-November tossed some plants in the East Coast region with some laid over. Dade County harvesting began about mid-November. Cold temperatures arriving around mid- December caused no significant damage to the acreage around Lake Okeechobee and in Dade County. (East Coast and Dade County, 4,750, 4,800; Everglades and other, 1,050, 700; all areas, 5,800, 5,500)

CARROTS: Growers were planting around Lake Apopka in early September. Rainfall hindered germination in early October. Some heavy rains hampered development around mid-October. Warmer, drier conditions during late October aided growth. The crop escaped major damage from near freezing temperatures during early to mid- November, and again around mid-December. Significant rainfall in early December caused very little damage to the crop. Digging began about mid-December with growers reporting good quality and yield prospects. (All areas, 5,600, 5,100)

BELL PEPPER: Rainy, windy weather in early October caused some foliage damage and reduced yield prospects by blowing off blooms. East Coast growers started picking by mid-October. Heavy rainfall again reduced crop prospects about mid-October. Harvesting became active by late October in the Palmetto-Ruskin region. Drier weather from late October through early November allowed most plants to recover. Fruit started reaching maturation in southwestern fields by late October with harvesting underway by early November. Windy, cooler weather during mid-November slowed fruit setting and sizing, caused foliage to burn, increased bloom loss, and scarred some fruit in southern fields. Milder weather from late November into early December boosted crop development and allowed transplanting to proceed on schedule in the East Coast and Southwestern regions. Cold winds near mid-December again caused some crop damage with most plants recovering well in the warmer drier conditions from late December into early January. (Southeast, 3,350, 3,000; Southwest, 2,600, 1,800; all areas, 6,000, 4,800)

CABBAGE: The crop was planted with no major weather problems and is in good condition with growth and development normal. Harvesting is currently active in all areas with most reporting a good yield and quality. (Hastings, 1,500, 1,300; other areas, 3,500, 2,700; all areas, 5,000, 4,000)

ESCAROLE-ENDIVE: Harvesting was underway around Lake Okee chobee in early to mid-October and around Lake Apopka by late October. Heavy rainfall in early to mid-October damaged some plants with most recovering well in the milder weather from late October into early November. Most plants recovered well from the cool, windy conditions around mid-November, and mid-December. (All areas, 850, 700)

EGGPLANT: Weather and growing conditions have been mostly favorable for eggplant. Some minor wind and blowing sand damage was overcome and plants are producing good grade and yield. (All areas, 600, 700)


    The prospective area for harvest of 13 selected fresh market vegetables during the winter quarter is forecast at 192,000 acres. This is 2 percent less than last year but 7 percent greater than in 1995. Acreage declines in cabbage, sweet corn, escarole/endive, head lettuce, bell peppers, spinach, and tomatoes more than offset acreage increases in broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, celery, and eggplant. Spinach, cabbage, and bell peppers showed the largest percentage decreases while eggplant, cauliflower, and broccoli had the largest percentage.

CABBAGE: Winter acreage for harvest is estimated at 10,300 acres, 24 percent less than last year and 14 percent below the 1995 level.

CARROTS: Acreage for harvest is forecast at 30,500 acres, up 6 percent from last year and 36 percent greater than in 1995.

CELERY: The winter celery crop acreage for harvest in California is estimated to be at 6,900 acres, 8 percent above 1996 and 5 percent above the 1995 crop.

LETTUCE: Acreage for harvest is forecast at 71,000 acres in Arizona and California. Harvested 1997 acreage in the two states is 3 percent below last year, but 18 percent above their 1995 total.

Selected Fresh Market Vegetables: Area for Harvest by Crop, State, and
Total, Winter Season, 1995-97

Selected crops
and States
Winter acreage 1997 area
for harvest
as percent
of 1996
Harvested For
1995 1996
Acres Percent
    Florida Jan-Mar 13,000 10,000 10,000 100
    Florida Jan-Mar 5,000 5,000 4,000 80
    Texas Jan-Mar 7,000 8,500 6,300 74
        Total 12,000 13,500 10,300 76
    California Jan-Mar 15,700 21,500 23,000 107
    Florida Nov-Mar 3,600 3,900 5,100 131
    Texas Dec-Mar 3,100 3,400 2,400 71
        Total 22,400 28,800 30,500 106
    Florida Jan-Mar 4,900 5,800 5,500 95
    Florida Jan-Mar 800 600 700 117
    Florida Jan-Mar 650 850 700 82
    Florida Jan-Mar 6,000 6,000 4,800 80
    Florida Dec-May 6,000 6,000 6,100 102
    Florida Jan-Mar 13,700 11,700 11,000 94
    Arizona--Western Nov-Apr 41,700 57,000 54,000 95
    California Dec-Apr 18,500 16,500 17,000 103
        Total 60,200 73,500 71,000 97
    California Jan-Mar 28,000 27,500 29,000 105
    California Jan-Mar 9,000 8,500 9,500 112
    California Jan-Mar 6,600 6,400 6,900 108
    Texas Jan-Mar 2,600 2,800 2,100 75
    Florida 53,650 49,850 47,900 96
    United States 79,450 83,250 79,600 96
    United States 185,850 201,950 198,100 98
1/ Includes fresh market and processing.