agriculture

Amy Green / WMFE

Steve Messam describes his city, Belle Glade, as having two main exports:

"Sugar," he said, "and wide receivers."

Local lore has it that National Football League standouts -- including Super Bowl-winning wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Santonio Holmes -- hone their speed by chasing rabbits through burning fields, as controlled fires strip sugarcane of excess leaves in preparation for the harvest.

The cold front that moved through Florida this past weekend brought a light dusting of snow in some portions of the western Panhandle and even some light frost in Southwest Florida, but the cooler temperatures left Florida agriculture operations relatively unscathed. 

Automation. Development. Citrus Greening. Florida’s agriculture industry is hurting, and Hurricane Irma is only the most recent blow. During this year's legislative session, lawmakers will be considering how to support the industry, which is second only to tourism.

Dave Chapman and dozens of other longtime organic farmers packed a meeting of the National Organic Standards Board in Jacksonville, Fla., this week. It was their last-ditch effort to strip the organic label from a tide of fluid-fed, "hydroponic" greenhouse-grown vegetables that they think represent a betrayal of true organic principles.

Café Hacienda San Pedro, a trendy coffee shop in San Juan, is buzzing. A long line snakes through it. People are chatting; dogs sit snoozing. Everything looks normal.

But in a few months, it probably won't.

Tom Hudson

Hurricane Irma dealt a blow to the agriculture industry in South Florida. Local damage estimates are still being calculated, but initial figures put it at around $250 million in Miami-Dade County alone. It’s too early to tell what the price of the storm will be for Palm Beach County farmers. The sugarcane harvest begins this month and crop loss will become more apparent.

It’s been more than a week since Hurricane Irma.

Yet many smaller communities in Florida’s rural counties are still suffering and need basic resources, according to a disaster relief expert with the Salvation Army.

From Cara Cara oranges to clementines, California's farmers deliver novel navels, mandarins and tangelos.

But the state's growers have watched with worry as the devastating disease known as citrus greening has crippled Florida's citrus industry. It's a threat not just to California's orange industry, but to the collection of rare, wild and heirloom varieties used to breed new crops that the U.S. Department of Agriculture currently "stores" in the state.

University of Florida researchers say they've found more beetles that can carry a disease threatening avocado trees.

Kate Stein / WLRN

A controversial plan to build a reservoir that would help address damaging water discharges in the Everglades ecosystem is one step closer to being enacted — thanks to revisions that take into account the concerns of farmers in the Everglades Agricultural Area.

On Wednesday, Florida’s Senate Appropriations Committee approved a revised version of Senate Bill 10. The bill aims to alleviate blue-green algae on Florida’s coasts by reducing the amount of water that's discharged to the coasts from Lake Okeechobee.

USGS, via Wikimedia Commons

A proposal to build a water storage reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee could create more than 39,000 jobs, according to a study released Tuesday by the Everglades Foundation.

There’s a growing movement to help veterans transition from the battlefield to a more bucolic setting. Whether it’s a community agriculture initiative or a functioning farm – researchers are finding that raising food can offer veterans both a therapeutic and an economic value.

Florida’s tomato growing season is now in full swing and growers are hopeful the industry will rebound after this past season during which farmers saw a nearly 23 percent reduction in crop yields.  Florida is the largest fresh tomato producing state in the country.

Amanda Rabines / WLRN

It's like a scene from a movie. On one side there are bare and dead avocado trees. On the other, there are freshly planted and seemingly healthy avocado trees - some bearing the large green fruit we love to squish and turn into guacamole. 

The contrast paints a picture of the effects of laurel wilt, a fungal disease spread by the non-native Redbay ambrosia beetle. 

South Florida tropical fruit farmers have been dealing with the disease, since 2012, after the first recorded case of laurel wilt was found in a commercial avocado tree. 

The cost of fighting a disease that’s ravaging Florida’s citrus industry is triggering growers to abandon their groves. Citrus greening causes orange trees to decline and die within a few years. And there’s no cure right now.  These “grove graveyards” become breeding grounds for the disease.

Pages