January is proving to be difficult for Florida growers. From storms to price decreases, agricultural producers in the region are contending with a myriad of challenges impacting their businesses and the quality of their products.
Florida growers are receiving low prices for agricultural products, and some are choosing to not harvest the full yield. Although sweet corn and squash prices increased recently, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, radishes and lettuce are fetching below-average prices, reported The Packer (Jan. 19).
Meanwhile, South Florida growers reported significant crop damage following heavy rain and high winds between Jan. 21 and 23. Paradise Produce Distributors noted that early assessments indicated damaged plants and supply shortages will be likely in the near future, reported The Produce News (Jan. 24).
The state’s strawberry crop is coming on strong. While California strawberry growers shipped approximately 170.5 million flats as of Jan. 23, representing an 8.7% increase from the same date in 2016, production in Florida is on the rise, with 11.2 million flats shipped through the same date, according to the California Strawberry Commission. (Editor’s note: this report is updated daily. The numbers were retrieved Jan. 25).
Heavy rain caused delays for California’s citrus harvest, but quality should not be impacted, according to California Citrus Mutual. Significant rainfall closed packinghouses during the middle of the week ended Jan. 14, but the break allowed grower-shippers to move off-size fruit and existing inventories from warehouses, reported The Packer (Jan. 20).
It’s not all bad news for the Florida citrus industry. Citrus greening, an ever-present threat for the state’s industry, will be researched by USDA. The agency will invest $13.6 million for research on citrus greening. The funding will be administered through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative Citrus Disease Research and Extension Program.
Let’s not leave another citrus region out of the picture. Citrus acreage in Texas could increase to as much as 30,000 acres in 2018, up from the 27,000 acres reported this year, according to Texas Citrus Mutual. Much of the new acreage is expected to be devoted to Texas red grapefruit varieties, but some fields will include mid-season oranges, navels and Valencias, reported The Packer (Jan. 20).