Ag Summary: Freeze Prompts State Of Emergency For Crops In Florida

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Highlights: While warmer than normal temperatures prevailed throughout much of the West, cold temperatures dominated an area centered over the eastern Corn Belt, as well as the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys where weekly recordings were as many as 20 degrees below average. Strong winter storm systems brought increased precipitation to much of the West Coast during the week, halting fieldwork but boosting high-elevation snow packs. Most notably, portions of California's Sierra Range accumulated precipitation totaling 6.5 inches or more. Elsewhere, snowfall in the northern Plains benefitted the poorly established winter wheat crop that has been stressed by drought, extreme temperatures, and wind in recent weeks.

An arctic cold front delivered freezing temperatures to much of Florida early in the week, prompting the issue of a state of emergency for all agricultural crops. Record lows were broken from the Panhandle to the southern Peninsula, damaging a variety of the State's crops. Newly planted sugarcane for the 2011 crop season was burnt back to the ground, while the tops of the remaining 2010 crop were frozen. Producers planned to harvest as quickly as possible before the crop becomes unusable. Fruit, nursery, and vegetable producers utilized a variety of freeze protection methods on their crops - blankets, freeze covers, heaters, overhead sprinklers, and helicopters. In the citrus-producing region, potentially damaging lows were experienced midweek; however, no reports on the amount of damage were given.

In Arizona, temperatures were above average across the State during the week, with precipitation reported at 20 of 22 weather stations. The 2010 cotton harvest was winding down, slightly behind last year's pace but ahead of the 5-year average. Producers in some areas were harvesting the last of their alfalfa hay crop, while sheep were grazing much of the State's acreage. Fruit and vegetable growers shipped a multitude of crops during the week, including arugula, bok choy, cabbage, cantaloupes, lettuce, lemons, and spinach.

A series of strong storm systems pounded much of California late during the week, producing high winds, heavy rains, and heavy mountain snowfall.

Southern areas of the State were the hardest hit with reports of widespread flooding, mud, and rockslides. Fieldwork continued as weather conditions allowed - oat silage was harvested and herbicides were applied to alfalfa fields early in the week. Winter seeded small grains continued to emerge nicely with good soil moisture conditions. The fall grape harvest was complete, but citrus fruit harvest slowed due to wet conditions.



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