Florida growers welcome widespread rainfall

Most areas of Florida received close to an inch or more of precipitation, except for some counties, during the week ending Dec. 16.

Glades, Hernando, St. Lucie, and Marion counties reported over 2 inches of precipitation; followed by Hardee, Lake, Baker, Volusia, St Johns, and Alachua with over one inch of rainfall. Some counties such as Broward, Collier, Osceola, and Polk counties recorded less than an inch of rain.

Temperatures for the week averaged from six to 10 degrees above normal, according to the USDA, NASS Florida field office. High evening lows in the central and southern Peninsula were in the low 40s and 50s, with some Panhandle areas experiencing lows in the 30s. Daytime highs were mostly in the 80s.

Warm nighttime temperatures prevailed in most areas, while a high pressure ridge remained in place during most of the week.

An increase in moisture moved in from the Atlantic from the remnants of tropical wave Olga. This brought heavy rain to some areas, which was needed in many Florida locations. The wind gusts and lashing rain left some downed trees and power outages in their wake. In southern Pasco County, just north of Tampa, an apparent tornado was reported by The Associated Press.

Cooler fall-like weather arrived towards the weekend. The week ended with a cold front, which moved in from the northwest.

Sugarcane harvesting continued in the Everglades region. In Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, growers were planting winter wheat. A substantial amount of late cotton still remained in Santa Rosa County fields.

Topsoil and subsoil moisture was rated mostly very short to short in the Panhandle and northern Peninsula areas. Central and southern Peninsula areas soil moisture supplies were rated mostly short to adequate with a few pockets of very short supplies.

Some field activities in vegetable areas were interrupted by the rains last week. Most harvesting was on schedule as growers marketed their crops to satisfy the holiday’s demand. However, warm weather in Hendry County accelerated vegetable crop growth disrupting in some instances the harvest schedule.

In St. Johns County, cabbage and broccoli were being harvested but warm weather caused some size issues. Harvesting of beans, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, and peppers continued in central and south Florida. Marketing movement increased for endive and escarole in south Florida, while celery growers were expected to begin harvest in two weeks.

Avocado, squash, beans, and tomatoes looked good in Florida City. Harvesting of vegetables continued in Immokalee. Broccoli harvest began on Monday in Palatka with quality and quantity reported as generally good. The warm weather caused a need for more irrigation and an early harvest of strawberries in Plant City. The strawberry crop was reported in good condition.

In the Panhandle and northern areas, pasture was very poor to good with most in fair condition. There was little forage growth due to drought and seasonally cool temperatures. Stock pond water levels remained low.

The condition of cattle was poor to fair with most in fair condition.

In central areas, pasture condition was poor to good with most in fair condition. Bahia pastures were in good condition for this time of year since weather has been warm; however, it is very dry so winter annuals (such as rye) are doing poorly.

Some small grain forage has not been planted because of the lack of rainfall. Cattle condition was fair to good. In the southwest areas, pasture condition was very poor to excellent with most in fair condition due to drought.

Hendry County received light scattered showers, but most locations suffered from severe drought. Statewide, cattle condition was very poor to excellent with most in fair condition.

It was a week of extreme variations in temperatures as cold weather finally made its way into the citrus-growing areas.

High readings were in the mid-80s with high humidity, while low temperatures reached the mid-30s to low 40s in all areas. Northern areas recorded the lowest temperatures.

Rainfall was recorded in all areas ranging from one-forth inch to over two in the east coast and some lower interior areas. All areas were in need of more rainfall during this typically dry time of the year. However, citrus trees were reported in good to excellent condition because of frequent irrigation to maintain soil moisture.

All major packinghouses were running at full capacity. Packing for fundraising programs and holiday gift giving continued. Harvested varieties included Sunburst tangerines, early and Navel oranges, grapefruit, and tangelos. All processing plants have started accepting field-run or direct to processor fruit and packinghouse eliminations.

Limited grove activity included mowing, spraying, fertilizing, and young tree care.

Various methods were being used to control greening and deal with its effects.

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