Florida agriculture officials have declared a state of emergency in Miami-Dade County, where an Oriental fruit fly infestation has the potential to attack hundreds of crops.

In a news release Tuesday, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said the first fruit fly was detected Aug. 26. Since then, 158 flies have been detected, many in the Redland area of the county.

Fruit flies lay eggs in fruits and vegetables. They're considered one of the world's most serious pests due to the potential economic harm. The fly attacks more than 430 different fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Pests and Diseases Image Library,

Officials met with farmers in southern Miami-Dade County Wednesday to explain the latest on a potentially devastating invasive fruit fly outbreak.

“It all began Aug. 17, over in the Palmetto Bay municipality.  We found one male Oriental fruit fly," the USDA's Abbie Fox told roughly 100 growers, landscapers and homeowners who had crammed into a small conference room in Homestead.


The Oriental fruit fly can use all kinds of plants as  hosts, including important local crops like avocados and tomatoes.

Kenny Malone / WLRN

Dr. Edward “Gilly” Evans does not hide his avocado bias.

“I mean, if you’re really an avocado eater then a ‘green-skin’ avocado is the way to go,” says the University of Florida agricultural economist.

America may have fallen in love with avocado, but it has not fallen for Florida’s avocado just yet. The Sunshine State specializes in what’s called the green-skin avocado. It comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes, but generally speaking, green-skins are bigger, a brighter green and have smoother skin than the Hass variety of avocado.

Richard Riley via Flickr /

Every harvest season, sugar farmers in Florida light controlled fires to burn off the leaves on the sugar cane plant. Only the stalks remain, waiting to be cut down, transported to mills and refined into sugar.

The Sierra Club says the practice is outdated and harmful to public health. The group’s Florida branch recently hosted a Big Sugar Summit in West Palm Beach to call for an end to cane burning.

Palm Beach County Farmers Want To Sell Land To Developers

Feb 18, 2015
Palm Beach County

Palm Beach County held its second roundtable Tuesday, discussing development options for the county’s Agricultural Reserve -- a 22,000-acre piece of land west of Boynton Beach and Delray Beach, just between Florida’s Turnpike and the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. Farmers want to sell their land to developers because business is bad.

Government regulators have approved a new generation of genetically engineered corn and soybeans. They're the latest weapon in an arms race between farmers and weeds, and the government's green light is provoking angry opposition from environmentalists.

Tom Hudson

Talking about sugar in South Florida is like talking about politics and religion in polite company. Few people are without strong opinions about the sugarcane farms stretching across the eastern Everglades south of Lake Okeechobee. The industry is a mix of government price policies, environmental regulations, trade practices and the demand for food.  

It's not been a good year for Florida's citrus industry. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that, for the second year running, the orange crop is expected to be almost 10 percent lower than the previous year.

The culprit is citrus greening, a disease that has devastated Florida's oranges and grapefruits, and has now begun to spread in Texas and California.

Tom Hudson

Squeezed between South Florida's neighborhoods and the Everglades is a multi-billion-dollar-a-year industry. Tomatoes, beans and avocados all sprout from the rocky South Florida soil along with one of the largest nursery industries growing trees, shrubs and other landscaping plants.

Agriculture generates a direct $700 million dollars a year in Miami-Dade County alone. The economic impact of the plowing, growing and picking of those crops is much larger.

Beef from cattle that have grazed only on pasture is in high demand — much to the surprise of many meat retailers, who didn't traditionally think of grass-fed beef as top-quality.

George Siemon, a founder of Organic Valley, the big organic food supplier, says the push for grass-fed beef started with activists who wanted to challenge a beef industry dominated by factory-scale feedlots. In those feedlots, cattle are fed a corn-heavy diet designed to make the animals gain weight as quickly as possible.