Florida vegetable growers began to prepare fields for the fall crop in early August, tilling ground and laying plastic.
Persistent tropical weather throughout much of August and September brought almost daily showers to much of the state, delaying land preparations in many areas, according to the NASS/USDA state field office.
By mid-August planting was under way in locations where the ground was ready, while other areas still struggled to get back on schedule. Heavy rainfall along the Atlantic coast of the central Peninsula left standing water in fields around the Hastings area, preventing planting of the cabbage crop. Growers in the Southwest had to pump water from low areas with standing water. Wet conditions were causing some disease and pest problems and growers began spraying to control them.
Rainfall began to diminish in late September and drying conditions allowed planting to accelerate. Growers continued spraying, staking, and performing other cultural activities. Small amounts of tomatoes and squash were beginning to be shipped.
Snap Beans: There were 9,200 acres planted for fall harvest in 2009, an increase of 700 acres from last fall’s crop.
Growers in the southern Peninsula began preparing land and planting in July. In the Big Bend and central regions, land preparation took place in mid-August. In early September, some field work was delayed by heavy rain. Excess water was pumped off fields in southwestern counties. Wet conditions caused some disease pressure. Growers in the southern Peninsula were able to get back on schedule by mid-month.
Cabbage: Fall fresh market area for harvest is forecast at 1,700 acres. If realized, the crop would be 500 acres larger than the previous fall. Heavy rain and flooding in the Tri-County area (Flagler, Putnam and St. Johns) delayed field preparations and planting.
Sweet Corn: Acres planted in sweet corn totaled 6,100 for 2009, up 600 acres from last fall. Constant showers during the growing season have been beneficial for sweet corn growth.
Cucumbers: Area planted for harvest in fall 2009 remains unchanged from the previous fall at 3,300 acres. Throughout August and September, heavy rainfall in the Panhandle and northern counties have caused some planting delays and increased disease problems. In the southern Peninsula conditions have been favorable for growth.
Bell Peppers: At 3,600 acres planted for fall harvest, bell pepper acreage is down slightly from the 3,700 harvested last fall. Although summer rains caused some planting delays, the crop is reported to be in good condition and on schedule for harvest.
Tomatoes: Tomatoes planted for harvest at 7,300 acres, were down 200 acres from last fall’s 7,500 acres. Competition from imports, high input costs, uncertainty about fumigation options, and urban encroachment in major growing areashave resulted in continued lower planted acreage when compared to historic levels.
The prospective area for harvest of 11 selected fresh market vegetables during the fall quarter is forecast at 152,080 acres, up 5 percent from last year. Acreage increased from last year for snap beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, sweet corn, cucumbers, and head lettuce while acreage declined for carrots, bell peppers, and tomatoes.
Snap Beans: Fall fresh market area for harvest is forecast at 18,000 acres, up 1 percent from last year. In New Jersey, lower than normal night time temperatures and excessive rainfall delayed harvest early in the season. However, late plantings benefitted from sufficient showers and near normal temperatures.
Cabbage: Fresh market area for harvest is forecast at 6,680 acres, up 34 percent from last year. In Georgia, growing conditions have been favorable for the fall season cabbage.
Sweet Corn: Fresh market area for harvest is forecast at 10,000 acres, up 6 percent from last year. The California crop is in good condition due to favorable weather during the summer and early fall.
Cucumbers: Area for fall harvest is forecast at 5,900 acres, up 20 percent from 2008. Growers in South Carolina experienced a hot and dry growing season. In Texas, growing conditions were favorable due to rain and cool weather during mid-September.
Tomatoes: Fresh market area for fall harvest is forecast at 18,800 acres, down 1 percent from 2008. In California, quality of fall tomatoes is good despite the summer heat wave.