A Survey of the Effectiveness of Current Methods Used for the Freeze Protection of Vegetables in South Florida

M. Ozores-Hampton, Gene McAvoy, Mary Lamberts, D. Sui

Abstract


Florida ranks second nationally in fresh market vegetable production with 192,600 acres planted with a value of $1.4 billion in 2008–09. Seventy percent are grown in southern Florida with a harvest season from October to June during which growers may have to deal with hurricanes, droughts, and extremes in temperature. The objective of this survey was to document the effectiveness of current freeze protection methods for vegetables grown in southern Florida. During the 2009–10 season, freezing temperatures were recorded on 11 to 13 Jan. in Collier, on 10 and 11 Jan. in Miami-Dade, and on 13 Jan. 2010 in Palm Beach County. Adding to the problems caused by the freeze(s), the season was atypically cold, which slowed or precluded recovery of many crops. Losses and damage crops (acres/year) included: 0 to 35% and 0 to 100% (Southwest Florida), 60% to 90% and 5% to 10% (Miami-Dade) and 0 to 30% and 24% to 70% (Palm Beach County), respectively. The most common method of freeze protection was elevated water tables. In all counties, there was limited use of row cover/hoops, Styrofoam cups, compost, soil and hay cover, tissue paper, chemical treatments, solid set irrigation, helicopter flights and hill cultivation. The effectiveness of current freeze control methods provided poor to fair protection in Southwest Florida and Miami-Dade, but fair to good protection in Palm Beach County.

Keywords


chilling damage, weather stress, cover, seepage, solid set irrigation

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283