agriculture

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.

Attractions Magazine

Springtime in South Florida means the bloom of those little yellow flowers on trees across the region. Those are tabebuia trees (pronounced tah-beh-BOO-ya). We spoke with Lee County Horticulture Agent Stephen H. Brown about the tabebuia tree and how long we can expect its colorful flowers.

 

Tell us what you can about the tabebuia tree.

 

Florida's Orange Crop In 'Free Fall'

Dec 9, 2015
Mark Elias / Bloomberg via Miami Herald

The outlook for production of Florida oranges, the state's signature crop, continues to drop.

For the second consecutive month, the Florida orange-harvest forecast for the 2015-2016 growing season was adjusted down Wednesday by the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"It's essentially in free fall," Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said Wednesday while outlining some of his priorities for the 2016 legislative session.

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.

Destructive Fruit Flies Threaten Redland

Sep 11, 2015
Pests and Diseases Image Library, Bugwood.org

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.

The Struggle Is Real For Florida Avocados

Aug 18, 2015
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.

Environmentalists Call For End To Sugar Cane Burning

Jun 29, 2015
Richard Riley via Flickr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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.

Miami-Dade Expands Urban Development Boundary

Oct 3, 2013
Tom Hudson

Miami-Dade County commissioners on Wednesday opened the door to more warehouses and offices west of Doral, agreeing to expand the Urban Development Boundary to include a 521 acre-chunk already surrounding by buildings.

From vacant lots to vertical "pinkhouses," urban farmers are scouring cities for spaces to grow food. But their options vary widely from place to place.

While farmers in post-industrial cities like Detroit and Cleveland are claiming unused land for cultivation, in New York and Chicago, land comes at a high premium. That's why farmers there are increasingly eyeing spaces that they might not have to wrestle from developers: rooftops that are already green.

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