Rains boost Florida crops

Frequent rainfall during the summer months replenished topsoil and subsoil moisture supplies in most areas of the Florida Panhandle, according to the state's agricultural statistics service.

Tropical Storm Barry brought winds and rain to many Panhandle areas as the storm made landfall between Laguna Beach and Destin on Aug. 6.

Warm temperatures, coupled with adequate rainfall, have boosted the development of crops such as corn, cotton, peanuts and soybeans, with most crops being rated in good to excellent condition.

In early August, cotton fields showed uneven development caused by erratic germination due to dry soils at planting. The oldest cotton plants had reached the maximum height for mechanical pickers by early August, pointing to an earlier-than-normal harvest for most producers.

Florida cotton growers expect to average 650 pounds per acre from the 124,000 acres to be picked this year. This compares with 480 pounds per acre averaged from 106,000 acres harvested in 2000. Industry reports indicate that most acreage planted for the 2001 crop will be picked.

Production is expected to total 168,000 bales, more than one and one-half times larger than last year's crop of 106,000 bales.

Peanut producers in Florida indicate that 87,000 acres will be dug in 2001, up 1,000 acres or 1 percent from the 86,000 acres harvested in 2000. Yield per acre is expected to average 2,800 pounds, up 315 pounds or almost 13 percent from the 2,485 pounds averaged last year.

Production is set at 243,600,000 pounds, up 29,890,000 pounds or 14 percent from the 213,710,000 pounds produced in 2000.

Growers reported that 95 percent of the plants had pegged by early August.

Florida tobacco producers expect to average 2,600 pounds per acre, up 50 pounds from the 2,550 pounds averaged last year and 110 pounds per acre or 4 percent higher than the July forecast.

Production during 2001 is expected to total 11,700,000 pounds from 4,500 acres to be harvested. In 2000, 11,475,000 pounds were harvested from 4,500 acres. Harvesting remained active throughout July and into early August.

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