Blueberry rows washed out. Note lack of damage in established plantings. Photo by Matt Orwat
Brightwell rabbiteye blueberry full of fruit. Photo by Matt Orwat
Blueberry harvest is less than a month away in the central Panhandle.
Although the Florida Panhandle has been hit with excessive rainfall this spring, blueberry yields are on track to be above average. Colder winter temperatures, coupled with wet spring weather has enhanced the yield potential of properly tended and well established planted blueberries.
Blueberries do best planted in low pH soil, on slightly sloping ground. This prevents the collection of water and resulting root rot in areas with poor drainage. While this situation is ideal for established blueberry plants, this slightly sloping situation can cause issues for newly planted blueberries. Field wash-outs caused by excessive rainfall can wreck newly planted rows, because the pine bark added to the planting trench, being less dense than soil, floats away.
After all this rain, what should growers do to ensure a productive harvest this summer? Keep an eye on plant condition as supplemental fertilizer may be needed. Blueberries generally require low fertilization rates, but if leaves show yellowed edges, red spots, or general yellowing, a fertilizer boost may be needed. Application of a few ounces of ammonium or urea based fertilizer around the root zone of established plants can be beneficial. It is a good idea to look for “Blueberry Special” fertilizer blends.
Ripening fruit. Photo by Matt Orwat
Fertilization rates for blueberries on a per-acre basis with banded application:
A drier May will help blueberries produce their greatest sweetness, as they develop. Late May and June rains could cause fruit split, so less rain during this period is ideal!
Washed out row in blueberry field. Photo by Matt Orwat
Emergency drainage ditch created to divert water from blueberry plantings. Photo by Matt Orwat
Newly planted blueberries washed out of row. Plants were collected and held in mist beds until rows are able to be repaired. Photo by Matt Orwat
Cotton being picked near Dellwood, Florida.
It’s early November and there is still a great deal of cotton to be picked in Northwest Florida. Yield reports from Jackson County have been well below the norm, with yields being reported between 400 -1100 lbs. of lint per acre. Additionally, there have been some reports of poor quality grades.
The weather has been the main recipient of blame from cotton farmers. Cold weather in April followed by a dry May made planting on time very difficult for some farmers, especially those without irrigation. In combination with a difficult planting season, continuous heavy rains the entire summer stressed much of the cotton crop, severely reducing yield potential and delaying maturity.
Despite these setbacks, farmers are still working hard to harvest their crop and deliver to the gin. Considerable acreage of the late planted cotton has still yet to be defoliated.
Dr. David Wright, UF/IFAS Agronomist has some thoughts for growers with late planted cotton:
“Growers with un-defoliated cotton should keep in mind that cool temperatures significantly reduce the the ability of cotton bolls to mature. If we are getting highs of 70 degrees and lows of 50 degrees we are getting zero heat units and thus cotton bolls are not maturing. Additionally, we are now at the point in the year where we run the risk of having a frost.
A frost can completely eliminate the ability of un-open bolls to open. Such a frost acts by killing the bolls, preventing them from producing ethylene which causes them to open. My best recommendation is to consider making harvest aid applications on their final fields while the conditions are favorable.”
Some weather forecasts show daily high temperatures remaining in the mid 70’s until the middle of next week. This could help a few more bolls to open over the next week. Additionally, it could prove to be good weather for applying harvest aid materials. Grower’s must soon decide when its time to pull the trigger on harvest aid materials for late planted fields.
For more information, see 2013 Cotton Harvest Timing and Defoliation and Cotton Growth and Development or contact your local UF/IFAS County Extension Agent.
Cotton stalks being chopped after picking near Marianna, FL.
Cotton modules stacked at the Clover Leaf Gin in Greenwood, Fl.
Harvest has begun in a few early planted fields around Northwest Florida this week. Additionally, some defoliant applications were made as well.
Tropical Storm “Karen” is projected to be felt in the Florida Panhandle sometime this Sunday. The imminent rain and winds from “Karen” could be bad news for cotton farmers.
Dr. David Wright, University of Florida Agronomist spoke briefly about some concerns in mature cotton fields:
“Fields that have been defoliated or fields that have large amounts of open bolls are at the greatest risk for losses from the storm this weekend. Heavy wind and rain could cause exposed lint to fall to the ground. During a storm, leaf cover is the best protectant a farmer has against loss. Hopefully growers will be able to resume defoliation applications next week.”
For information on cotton defoliation see 2013 Cotton Harvest Timing and Defoliation or contact you local UF/IFAS Extension Agent.
A cotton module waiting to be picked up by the cotton gin.
Peanut harvest is beginning in some of the earliest planted Florida Panhandle fields. So far yield and grades have been decent, but only a handful of acres have been harvested.
Dr. David Wright, UF/IFAS Agronomist, offers the following reminders about peanut digging and harvesting:
“Peanut maturity is always an important consideration in a year like this, when peanuts may or may not be ready according to the calendar. The hull scrape or pod blast method will help determine the optimum time to dig,” said Wright.
“In addition to pod maturity, growers will need to consider the health of the vines and the weather forecast. If a hurricane looks imminent two or more weeks before peanuts are ready to dig, additional fungicide applications may be necessary to prevent spread of leaf spot disease. Severe defoliation from leaf spot or other diseases that weaken the vines and pegs may require a field to be dug early to prevent harvest losses. Digging losses can be up to 500 pounds per acre when pegs are weakened from disease and other stressors,” he said.
For more information on peanut maturity see Peanut Maturity Determination or contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Agriculture Agent.
Peanuts across the Panhandle have variable maturity right now.
Peanut maturity is a key factor that determines yield and grade of peanuts. Since peanuts are an indeterminate crop, they set their fruit over a long period of time as opposed to all at once. The variability of pod maturity can sometimes make it difficult to decide when to dig or harvest the crop.
The two main factors that determine how fast peanuts will mature is temperature and rainfall. Researchers from the Universities of Florida and Georgia as well as the National Peanut Lab have called the combination of these factors “Adjusted Growing Degree Days” (AGDD’s).
An AGDD is simply the average air temperature plus the total rainfall on a given day. The addition of AGDD’s over a growing season helps determine the maturity of a peanut crop because it takes into account the temperatures and rainfall over the season. Research shows that peanuts are mature at around 2500 AGDD’s.
Early in the season, peanuts accumulate AGDD’s slowly, because the air temperatures tend to be relatively cool. In July and August, air temperatures increase and AGDD’s accumulate more rapidly. Since water is also a factor in AGDD’s, shortages of water slow down AGDD accumulation whereas ample water speeds up maturity.
This year’s crop
Peanuts across the Panhandle have variable maturity right now. Below is a table of AGDD’s of peanut crops planted at various planting dates. Notice the similarities between the Marianna and Jay locations.
||Days after planting
The earliest planted peanuts (April 25) are around 1900 AGDD’s and will be mature at around 2500 AGDD’s. If max air temperatures stay in the mid-low 90’s and rainfall contiues, it will probably be another four weeks until peanuts planted on that date are ready. Peanuts planted a month later (May 25) may mature faster than expected, given mid 90 degree temperatures and additional rainfall, shortening the number of days to reach maturity.
The AGDD method gets us close to determining maturity, but we still need to use the hull scrape method to determine when to dig. This method uses a pressure washer to remove the outer layer of the peanut hulls, revealing the color of the pod. Pods are then grouped by color onto the Peanut Maturity Profile Board and the date for digging is determined.
To track AGDD’s on your own farm, visit the UF Peanut Farm website and setup an account. For more information on peanut maturity, read this Panhandle Ag e-News article by Shep Eubanks, Holmes County Extension Director: Peanut Maturity Determination, or contact your local UF/IFAS extension agent.
Work’s Referenced: Rowland et al., 2006. Determination of Maturity and Degree Day Indices and their Success in Predicting Peanut Maturity. Peanut Science 33:125-136.