Unique Farming Challenges in Florida Part 1

Florida farmers truly reap what they sow in Florida’s sun-drenched, tropical climate. It takes hard work to cultivate Florida’s iconic Navel, Temple, and Valencia oranges, but farmers who dedicate themselves to producing these staples of the Sunshine State will benefit immensely from Florida’s nearly perfect agricultural conditions.

Florida farmers are one of the cornerstones of the U.S. agricultural industry. If you are interested in joining the next harvest, there are many Florida farms for sale, but be sure that you are ready to cope with the unique farming challenges found in Florida. In part one of this two-part guide, the land professionals at Saunders Real Estate will examine how hurricanes, pests, and diseases affect Florida farmers.

Hurricane Season

In 2017, Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc across Florida causing billions of dollars in damage. Florida farmers were hit especially hard. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) estimates that Hurricane Irma wiped out over 2.5 billion dollars worth of production agriculture. Farming in central Florida can lessen the impact of potential hurricanes. This area has historically sustained less damage due to its distance from the ocean.

Fortunately, Florida agriculture is rarely affected by hurricanes to such a high degree. Plus, Florida’s mild winters ensure year-round sustainability for many crops.

Pests

Florida’s agricultural pests come in many shapes and sizes. Cotton seed bugs feast on cotton and other plants in the cotton family, as well as unrelated seeds and fruits of other plants. The Eastern lubber grasshopper is another pest found in Florida that experiences huge population explosions that threaten the wellness of Florida’s row crops and citrus groves. Exotic fruit flies are among the most destructive pests in the entire world. The aptly named fruit flies take host in a variety of fruits and vegetables including citrus. Another one of Florida’s worst pests is the giant African land snail, a slow-moving behemoth that consumes over 500 different varieties of plants.

Disease

Florida citrus farmers have been battling citrus greening disease for over a decade. Although recent developments show signs of a comeback in Florida’s citrus industry, it is important to understand Florida’s agricultural diseases and how to protect your crops from becoming infected.

Citrus greening disease is one of the most deadly diseases plaguing Florida citrus. This disease is transmitted by an insect called a psyllid. The disease causes a tree’s vascular system to constrict, making it impossible for nutrients to reach the fruit. An infected tree will lose all of its fruit and then die. Other diseases that threaten Florida’s agriculture include sweet orange scabs, citrus black spots, citrus cankers, and more. Florida’s non-citrus agriculture also faces many health-related challenges.

The life of a farmer in Florida is challenging, wholesome, and ultimately rewarding. In part two, we will continue to explore the unique challenges facing Florida farmers.

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