agriculture

MATIAS J. OCNER / MIAMI HERALD

On this Tuesday, July 2, episode of Sundial:

Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner On COVID-19

Gov. Ron DeSantis has made the message loud and clear that Florida has no plans on rolling back, even as the state continues to see thousands of new coronavirus cases every day. 

Pedro Portal / Miami Herald

Vanilla has an undeserved reputation for being blah, as in plain vanilla, the flavor for people who consider chocolate too daring.

The truth is a vanilla bean is an exotic thing — the only edible fruit of the orchid family — and an essential ingredient in a host of everyday favorites as well as holiday treats, from Christmas cookies to Hanukkah sufganiyot (fried donuts) to coquito, Miami’s superior upgrade of egg nog.

For the first time in years, it’s a wonderful time to grow Christmas trees.

Christmas tree growers say 2019 has been the industry’s best year in decades — in part because of a number of bad years, says Chal Landgren, a Christmas tree specialist at Oregon State University.

Landgren grows trees on a five-acre farm north of Portland, Oregon, and says seedlings planted in 2019 have seen good rates of survival. That wasn’t the case from 2015 to 2018, when dry, hot summers led growers to plan for losses.

In Florida, more than two invasive species get established every month, brought in through cargo or by visitors. But researchers are making progress in the battle against one major pest: the Brazilian peppertree.

On a cattle ranch near Fort Pierce, a team from the University of Florida recently released 1,500 tiny insects called thrips, or Pseudophilothrips ichini.

"That is the biological control for the Brazilian pepper," Kate Rotindo said.

Virus Found In Mexican Tomatoes Worries Florida Agriculture Officials

Oct 11, 2019

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services expressed concern Wednesday about a virus dangerous to tomatoes and peppers that has been found in tomatoes imported from Mexico.

Madeline Fox / WLRN

Palm Beach County has its share of spacious, suburban houses – especially in the areas west of the coastline, where land is cheaper and more plentiful.

It also has plenty of farms, producing crops that range from Florida’s famous sugarcane to sweet corn, lettuce and tropical fruits.

A planned community near Wellington is hoping to find success by combining the two. Arden bills itself as an “agrihood,” a master-planned community of 2,000 homes centered around a five-acre farm and barn.

J Pat Carter / AP Photo

Florida's iconic palm trees are under attack from a fatal disease that turns them to dried crisps in months, with no chance for recovery once they become ill.

Spread by a rice-sized, plant-hopping insect, lethal bronzing has gone from a small infestation on Florida's Gulf Coast to a nearly statewide problem in just over a decade. Tens of thousands of palm trees have died from the bacterial disease, and the pace of its spread is increasing, adding to environmental woes of a state already struggling to save its other arboreal icon, citrus trees, from two other diseases.

Carl Juste/Miami Herald

Randall Dasher is a fourth-generation Florida farmer and until last year, he never had a crop of iron-clay cowpeas fail.

"Something has changed and somewhere, someway, that has affected our yields," he said Monday during a panel at the University of Florida, where farmers met with U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa, scientists and agriculture officials.

Humans must drastically alter food production to prevent the most catastrophic effects of global warming, according to a new report from the United Nations panel on climate change.

The panel of scientists looked at the climate change effects of agriculture, deforestation and other land use, such as harvesting peat and managing grasslands and wetlands. Together, those activities generate about a third of human greenhouse gas emissions, including more than 40% of methane.

Robert is Here. The Farmland Over There Could Be A New Development

Jul 23, 2019
Gerard Albert / WLRN

In rural Redland, on the frontier of the Everglades National Park, big white letters that read “ROBERT IS HERE” have welcomed visitors for nearly six decades into a cornucopia of South Miami-Dade’s local and exotic fruits and vegetables. 

However, the fruit stand's identity as a provider of the area’s agricultural products to be consumed surrounded by quiet fields is at risk, said owner Robert Moehling and his family.

 

Patrick Fergusson / Sierra Club

Sugar cane burning remains a controversial practice in rural communities in Western Palm Beach County. From October until April, sugar cane growers burn the outer leaves of the cane plants in order to harvest the sugar. 

Nikki Fried
Nikki Fried Campaign

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried ran on a platform of what she called 'the three W’s': weapons, water and weed. Within months of her swearing in, it’s that last W that’s already generating a buzz around the state. 

Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition / Courtesy

For the past 68 years the Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition has brought fun amusement park rides, funnel cakes and magic shows to South Florida. But it's more than just fun; organizers also want to educate kids on the agriculture industry. This year's fair, which has been going since March 14, is training the future generation of farmers.

University of Florida researchers have made some headway in their quest for cultivating vanilla plants that would thrive in the state.


Hemp in Florida is one step closer to legality. A measure legalizing hemp production passed its first legislative hurdle Wednesday.

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