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(January, February, March)
January 19, 1999

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. Estimated acreage for harvest by growing areas is presented in order: area, previous year (1998), current year (1999).

WEATHER: Hot temperatures persisted during October, November, and most of December. Mostly dry weather during October helped crops recover from the winds and rains of late September, and increased the need for irrigation. In early November, strong winds from Tropical Storm Mitch twisted foliage, and wind borne sand and heavy rain lowered the quality of crops nearing maturity in the East Coast, Immokalee and Everglades regions. Mostly dry weather followed the storm and continued through most of December which helped crops recover. The need for irrigation increased in early December although morning fog provided some moisture to developing plants. A cool snap after mid-December delayed some fruit maturation with some harvesting delayed a couple of days. However, balmy temperatures soon followed the cooler weather in late December along with an increase in showers. A cold front passing over the state at the end of December again cooled temperatures which slowed development of some crops. Freezing temperatures dipped into central and some southern Peninsula localities during early January. These cold temperatures damaged some squash and cucumbers around Immokalee with tomatoes suffering only minor leaf burn. Mature berries in the Plant City and Dover area were damaged by the icing of strawberry plants which saved the immature fruit and the plants.

TOMATOES: Dade County growers started planting by early October. Clearer skies and above normal temperatures during most of October helped plants recover from the earlier windy and rainy weather. Palmetto-Ruskin, East Coast, and southwestern producers began harvesting in late October. Gradeout ran slightly above normal for the early picks in the Immokalee region due to the earlier bad weather causing cracked shoulders. Gusty winds caused some bloom loss and scarred some young fruit in East Coast localities during late October. Tropical Storm Mitch brought significant rains and wind to the southern Peninsula during early November with fruit quality and yield prospects reduced in most localities. Hot and relatively dry weather during the rest of November and most of December boosted plant growth and fruit development in southern areas. Harvesting was delayed a couple of days during early November due to fields flooded by Mitch's rains. Strong winds in Dade County near mid-November caused some leaf burn but dried out ground flooded by the earlier storm. A labor shortage in the Palmetto-Ruskin region during early December delayed some picking. Producers in the Quincy area finished harvesting by mid-December. Dade County growers began picking a very light volume during late December. Cooler temperatures around mid-December and again at the end of the month slowed some fruit maturation which delayed picking for a couple of days. (Southwest, 6,400, 8,300; Dade, 3,000, 4,000; East Coast, 1,900, 2,200; all areas, 11,300, 14,500)

SNAP BEANS: Planting and harvest are both active. The crop is in good condition. Quality and color are good. (All areas, 11,500, 9,500)

STRAWBERRIES: Crop development proceeded at a faster pace than last season due to the warm fall weather. Harvest started near the first of December and had very few problems through the end of December with production ahead of last year. (All areas, 6,200, 6,200)

SWEET CORN: Rain and wind from tropical systems delayed planting in East Coast areas during the last half of September. Oldest plants in the Southwest were two to three inches high by early October. Zellwood and northern producers were harvesting by early to mid-October with the passage of Tropical Storm Mitch in early November causing some slight delays. Winds from Mitch, clocked at 70 miles per hour blew over or lodged some stalks in the Everglades and Dade County. However, dry weather following the storm allowed most acreage to recover. Everglades growers began picking by mid- November. East Coast producers started planting about mid-November. The oldest acreage in Dade County reached the tasseling stage during late November with ears starting to appear by early December. Zellwood and northern producers finished harvesting by early December. Southwestern growers began picking by mid-December. Cooler temperatures slowed some maturation after mid-December. Dade County producers began harvesting during the last half of December. (East Coast and Dade County, 5,100, 4,800; Everglades and other, 700, 1,300; all areas, 5,800, 6,100)

BELL PEPPER: Tropical waves, bringing abundant rain to the East Coast area, delayed fieldwork during mid-to-late September. Rain and strong winds from Hurricane Georges caused some bloom loss in southern Peninsula areas during the last week of September. Picking of fall crop acreage began in the East Coast region in early October as the oldest acreage started to set fruit around Immokalee. Palmetto-Ruskin producers finished fall crop planting by mid-October. West Central and southwestern growers started harvesting during late October and early November. Rain from the passage of Tropical Storm Mitch over the southern Peninsula in early November flooded fields and affected some quality with most plants recovering in the warm and mostly dry weather that followed the storm and persisted through early December. Cooler temperatures, arriving about mid-December, slightly slowed fruit maturation with some harvesting delayed a few days. (Southeast, 3,100, 3,100; Southwest and Central, 1,200, 1,900; all areas, 4,300, 5,000)

CABBAGE: Planting and harvest are active in all areas. Cooler weather after the first of the year has helped the crop produce better quality heads. (North, Hastings, 2,000, 1,900; other areas, 2,800, 1,100; all areas, 4,800, 3,000)

ESCAROLE-ENDIVE: Warm temperatures boosted growth during September and October. Tropical Storm Mitch blew sand on leaves with rain flooding some fields during early November in the Everglades region. Harvesting started during late November with some quality reduced by the storm. Warm and mostly dry weather during most of December helped improve quality. (All areas, 750, 800)

EGGPLANT: Weather and growing conditions have been mostly favorable for eggplant. Plants are producing good grades. Volume is light at the current time. (All areas, 800, 700)


    The prospective area for harvest of 13 selected fresh market vegetables during the winter quarter is forecast at 199,700 acres. This is 3 percent above last year and 5 percent more than in 1997. Acreage increases in cauliflower, celery, sweet corn, escarole/endive, head lettuce, bell peppers, and tomatoes more than offset declines in snap beans, cabbage, eggplant, and spinach. Tomatoes, Bell peppers, and escarole/endive had the largest acreage increases, while snap beans, spinach, and eggplant showed the largest acreage decrease.

Selected Fresh Market Vegetables: Area for Harvest by Crop, State, and
Total, Winter Season, 1997-99
Selected crops
and States
Winter acreage 1999 area
for harvest
as percent
of 1998
Harvested For
1997 1998
Acres Percent
    Florida Jan-Mar 10,000 11,500 9,500 83
    Florida Jan-Mar 4,000 4,800 3,000 63
    Texas Jan-Mar 6,300 6,500 7,000 108
        Total 10,300 11,300 10,000 88
    Florida Jan-Mar 4,300 5,800 6,100 105
    Florida Jan-Mar 700 800 700 88
    Florida Jan-Mar 600 750 800 107
    Florida Jan-Mar 4,800 4,300 5,000 116
    Florida Jan-Mar 10,800 11,300 14,500 128
    Florida Dec-May 6,100 6,200 6,200 100
    California Jan-Mar 23,000 21,000 22,000 105
    Texas Dec-Mar 2,400 2,300 2,800 122
        Total 25,400 23,300 24,800 91
    Arizona--Western Nov-Apr 51,800 51,000 52,000 102
    California Jan-Mar 17,000 17,500 20,500 117
        Total 68,800 68,500 72,500 106
    California Jan-Mar 30,000 30,500 30,300 99
    California Jan-Mar 9,500 9,500 9,800 103
    California Jan-Mar 6,900 7,300 7,400 101
    Texas Dec-Mar 2,400 2,500 2,100 84
    Florida 41,300 45,450 45,800 101
    United States 190,600 193,550 199,700 103
1/ Includes fresh market and processing.

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