Columns

15 Mar
Ways to expand your farm-related business

If it’s time to grow your farm-related business, expanding into new markets is a good way to do it. One way is to market to government through Florida’s “Farm to School” program. By promoting Florida-grown produce in the schools, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is helping to keep millions of school food

15 Mar
Agritech update: Data collection in field at root of success

Your success as a farmer is in the field, where you reap the harvest of your labors. It’s no different with agri-technology: Getting it right in the field is key! [emember_protected custom_msg=”Click here and register now to read the rest of the article!”] Farmers need to gather data by pad and pencil, simple forms they

15 Mar
The PCFB President’s Column

The “Annual Youth in Ag” edition is one that I look forward to reading each year. There is something invigorating about hearing how our youth are continuing ag traditions while expanding existing ag programs and studying new innovative technologies with the same pioneering spirit that we see so often in our industry. I enjoy reading

15 Mar
What is Florida’s Right to Farm Act?

Along with many other states, Florida adopted right-to-farm legislation curtailing the rights of neighboring landowners to bring nuisance suits to prohibit certain farming operations. The Florida Right to Farm Act also limits local governments from imposing regulations on farming operations that are stricter than those imposed by various agencies of the state of Florida, including

15 Feb
Publisher Letter: A video worth sharing

Every once in a while, we watch a commercial that is more than just a marketing ploy meant to try and get us to buy something. They are diamonds in the rough, for sure, but sometimes a commercial is also a reminder of something much more important than any product. Rather than a sales pitch,

15 Feb
Land Management: Time for Fertilizer and Pesticide Applications

As winter fades and crops begin to blossom, it is once again time to diligently apply granular and spray fertilizers and pesticides. We have inventoried how much of each material we have on hand and begun preparing an order list. Prices vary a lot, so you will want to shop for supplies. Even if you

15 Feb
Two Questions from My Client Equine Owners

I’m often asked similar questions by animal owners dealing with health of their animals. Taking care of large animals is what I love to do, so answering these questions is always a pleasure. The following are two common questions I sometimes get. [emember_protected custom_msg=”Click here and register now to read the rest of the article!”]

15 Feb
Conserving Water Just Got Easier

If you are a city water customer, you may be eligible for a free landscape and irrigation system evaluation to help you conserve water. The cities of Lakeland, Winter Haven, Haines City, Auburndale, and Polk City are offering the free evaluation in conjunction with the Southwest Florida Water Management District and Polk County Utilities. [emember_protected

15 Feb
Editor’s Blog: An Opportunity at Agri-Fest

For 25 years, Polk County Agri-Fest has been educating fourth-graders at this annual event to help cultivate future leaders for the agriculture industry. But most importantly, their efforts show children agriculture commodities that they may not have even been aware of.

15 Feb
Commissioner’s AgriCorner: State History Learning Made Fun

2013 marks 500 years since the discovery of Florida by Juan Ponce de Leon. In celebration of Florida’s 500th anniversary, the Florida State Fair branded this year’s 12-day event “Discover the Fun.” In addition to staples of the fair — the livestock shows, deep-fried Twinkies, and the Giant Slide — there were new, interactive opportunities

15 Feb
Tablet Trends: Buyers Choosing Microsoft, Apple and Android

As I shared in last month’s column, one of the big trends in agri-technology this year is computer tablets. Lower prices are making them more popular for managing daily recordkeeping and invoicing, tracking harvest tickets, estimating crops, and handling time keeping and scouting. There will be more software applications and Internet connectivity options. And although

15 Feb
Wording in Contracts Matter: Acts of God

Everyone who lived in Florida during 2004 remembers the impact of the four hurricanes that struck that summer and early fall season. Undoubtedly, these acts of God affected every citrus grower, dealer, broker, and processor in the Florida agriculture industry.

15 Feb
PCFB President’s Column (February 2013)

With the opening of the 2013 Legislative Session just around the corner, the Polk County Farm Bureau (PCFB) will be keeping a close eye on proposed bills that may have an effect on agriculture production as they are filed and move through committees.

15 Jan
Flooding in Florida?

The impacts to an agricultural operation from flooding, whether caused by a neighbor or by a government, are devastating. The law in Florida, while generally considered to be highly favorable to the rights of private property owners, is muddled and sometimes favorable to governments. This month’s column will briefly describe three different situations that occur

15 Jan
Essential Reminders When Budget Planning

January is the perfect time to look at the budget of your small business and ensure that everything is in order for the upcoming year. This month we will talk about some steps you can take to keep your company running smoothly and make certain that your finances are properly budgeted.

15 Jan
Don’t Be Sheepish About Vaccinations: Important Vaccines for Sheep and Goats

Vaccinations serve well as preventative measures in sheep or goats’ health care. Since these ruminant mammals are closely related in their general make-up, they’re easily treated for the same diseases. Delayed vaccinations or missed boosters can lead to spread of disease or, in some instances, death. The most important types of vaccinations for your flock/herd

15 Jan
Tips to Keep Your Lawn Healthy, Come What May

The gardening tips for this month are a little different from years past. Due to the unusually warm weather we have had this winter, many plants and trees are showing signs of an early bloom. Along with some normal gardening tips, here are precautions to keep your plants and lawn safe in the event we

15 Jan
Managing Your Land During Unpredictable Weather

The cold weather blast that came through the weekend prior to Christmas seemed to sneak up on us. Once again, I was amazed by the difference between the forecasted temperatures and what actually occurred. Remember, it is important to know your land and have the most accurate information possible.

15 Jan
The Year Ahead for Agritechnology

So, what’s in store for 2013 from an agritechnology perspective? For agriculture, we will see a significant increase in tablet computing at the farming level because of decreased prices and widespread acceptance in the industry. There will also be more software applications available and increased Internet connectivity options. Things such as hot spots often are

15 Jan
Commissioner’s AgriCorner: A Mid-Term Update

What’s Been Done and What’s Left to Do? Just two years ago, I was sworn in to serve as Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture, and this month marks the halfway point in my four-year term. Looking back on the last two years, I’m proud of the progress we’ve made, but I recognize there’s still much more

13 Jan
Late-Season Cold Front Preparedness

January 2013 has definitely started out warmer than past years. This burst of temperate weather has altered the way many of the bushes and trees around Central Florida are behaving. This month we will discuss how you may need to adjust the way you care for your plants this year.

15 Dec
Getting Your Ducks in a Row for Maximum Deductions at Tax Time

A wise individual once said that there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes. Thankfully, we are only dealing with the tax side of things in this month’s column. To expand on last month’s early symptom check, here are some tips to ensure that your small business is prepared for the inevitable day

15 Dec
PCFB: President’s Column (December 2012)

Over the past year, the Polk County Farm Bureau (PCFB) and its members have worked to continue to develop and promote partnerships that will not only support our industry, but also contribute to the health of our community as a whole. From contributions to youth education through grants and scholarships to giving their time in

15 Dec
Commissioner’s AgriCorner: On the Eve of a Significant Milestone for Florida

In 2013, Florida will celebrate 500 years since it was discovered by Juan Ponce de Leon. He named this land “La Florida” because it was the season known in Spain as “Pascua Florida,” the Festival of Flowers, and because much of the land’s vegetation was in bloom. Later, in 1539, another European settler, Luis Hernandez

15 Dec
Putting Planting and Pruning Plans to Action

It’s hard to believe that we have already reached our final gardening tips for the year. If you have kept up with our suggestions and properly cared for your lawn and garden throughout the year, they should be looking nice and healthy. Here are just a few more tips to ensure your outdoor areas look

15 Dec
The use of RFID technology in the cold supply chain

Anyone involved in the transportation and warehousing of goods is likely aware of the acronym RFID (short for radio frequency identification). The online RFID Journal (www.rfidjournal. com) defines RFID as a “generic term that is used to describe a system that transmits the identity (in the form of a unique serial number) of an object

15 Nov
Commissioner’s AgriCorner: The Future of Florida Agriculture is a Great Responsibility

Last month, more than 50,000 members of the FFA gathered in Indianapolis, Indiana, for the National FFA Convention. There, they learned about career opportunities in agriculture, lent a helping hand to the local community, and elected a Floridian as the next president of the National FFA.

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15 Nov
An Early Symptom Check for Tax Season

While we are still a few months away from tax season, it’s never too early to get all your ducks in a row and stay ahead of the game. If a problem is lurking below the surface of your small business, it would be much better to catch it now rather than later. Here are

15 Nov
Publisher Letter: Adding a New ‘Layar’ to Our Print Media

At Central Florida Media Group, we’re constantly thinking about and looking for better ways to connect with our advertisers and readers. We also recognize that for print media to thrive in a digital world, it must evolve and become a more engaging version of its ancestors. In this edition of Central Florida Ag News magazine,

15 Nov
The Use of Windbreaks on the Farm

There is no controlling the weather, but in today’s Florida agricultural landscape, farmers and growers are actively testing ways to have power over what they can. We use the latest tactics to protect the investment we’ve put so much into throughout our careers.

15 Nov
Editor’s Blog: The Heights We Go to Bring You Something Truly Unique

At Central Florida Media Group, we’re very fortunate to have an incredibly talented and committed team. Every member (whether employed or contributing staff) works to make Central Florida Ag News a truly unique and distinctive publication. In this very special edition — The Ag in Art Showcase — one of our contributing photographers went to

15 Nov
PCFB: President’s Column (November 2012)

As I write this column on Veterans Day, and with the 2012 elections concluded, I am reminded of the gratitude that we owe to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice so that each of us has the freedom to go to the polls and cast our votes. We want to say a special thanks

11 Nov
No Time Like the Present for Your Lawn

During the months of November and December, our state goes through one of its most dramatic weather pattern shifts of the year. The rainy season comes to a close and the outdoor temperature usually drops below 85 degrees on most days. Your watering schedule and the application of controls and fertilizers must be adjusted according

15 Oct
PCFB: President’s column (October 2012)

AS THE CLOCK WINDS DOWN toward Election Day, I cannot stress often enough the importance of each of our votes on November 6. As with any election, our very livelihoods and quality of life are at stake. Our current economic and regulatory climate will not support the businesses, employers, and employees who are striving for

15 Oct
Planning for growth

There is nothing quite as satisfying as seeing your business grow and flourish into the success you had envisioned from day one. It is vitally important, however, to ensure that you are prepared for the achievements that come your way and are ready to handle them accordingly. Here are some tips on how to manage

15 Oct
Strengthening the links in the chain

Companies that do international business and trade in agricultural commodities and packaged food products must meet tough international standards to ensure the confidence and health safety of the end user or consumer. For companies in the cold supply chain, the channel for products that require refrigeration to prevent spoilage, there is no more stringent international

15 Oct
Lawn and garden tips to remember for fall

Now that some cooler temperatures are on the horizon, it’s time to go over the gardening tips for the month of October. We’ve got some great guidelines to help keep your lawn and garden looking healthy during the changing season.

15 Oct
How new technologies can make your job easier

DURING THE YEAR we have talked about cloud computing, the use of tablet computers in agriculture, and vein readers and facial recognition as emerging technologies for harvesting data collection. [emember_protected custom_msg=”Click here and register now to read the rest of the article!”] Well, technologies don’t always pan out, as is the case with vein readers

15 Oct
Equine wellness programs, Part II

PREVENTIVE VETERINARY MEDICINE for horses treats the animal at its peak health and aids the owner in having a knowledgeable grasp of their horse’s physical and behavioral traits. Our Equine Wellness Programs are an essential and beneficial tool in maintaining the health and wellness of your horse. The program options fit the individual needs of

15 Oct
Your landscape: At home and in the grove

As we enter the fall and winter months here in Central Florida, now is the time to put some focus on the things that need to be done at home and in the groves. Here are a few essential practices that will keep your home and business running smoothly through winter and into spring.

10 Oct
Publisher Letter: More on the sweet spot for Florida agriculture

THE ANNUAL AGRITECHNOLOGY EDITION of Central Florida Ag News is here! If you’ve ever been within earshot when I’m talking about Florida’s agritechnology sector, you may have heard me use terms like Florida’s economic “sweet spot.” Agriculture is such a big economic driver for Florida (about $100 billion big, to be specific), which is why

15 Sep
Publisher Letter: Quality time with the family

READING ABOUT ALL THE GREAT ways to enjoy Florida definitely gives me the itch to get outdoors! In the Kirkland family, to say we are water enthusiasts would be an understatement. My wife, Dot, and I are both Certified Advanced Scuba Divers. Over the years, we’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to dive

15 Sep
A citrus thief in our midst

THERE IS NO DOUBT that these tough economic times seem to be affecting just about every industry in the country. Instead of rolling up their sleeves and putting in extra hard work, however, some individuals choose the path of dishonor and disgrace. Across Polk County, there recently has been a surge in thefts of orange

15 Sep
Editor’s Blog: Wrapped up in the pages of this R&R edition

I CAN HARDLY BELIEVE it’s September already! Imagine, less than three months from now, we’ll be hanging up the mistletoe and wrapping presents that we plan to present to loved ones on Christmas day. Before I get too far ahead of myself, however, we’ve got some great stories wrapped up for you in the pages

15 Sep
Covering the bases with an equine wellness program

HORSES, AS WELL AS HUMANS, benefit from preventative medicine. It is often a better practice to enlist a preventative health-care program with your veterinarian rather than resorting to corrective treatment. That’s why at Polk Equine, we offer the Equine Wellness Program with the highest quality preventative care.

15 Sep
Third-party audits — insuring the cold chain

THIRD-PARTY AUDITORS are independent, industry audit certification bodies that verify all aspects of self-policing and adherence to standards. These audits cost thousands of dollars to engage, disrupt normal business operations, and costs thousands of additional dollars in overtime, “tweaking” systems, and preparation. Third-party audits are not only necessary (and in many cases mandatory by customers),

15 Sep
Insights for the family-owned operation

WHEN IT COMES to your small business, there is usually no such thing as too much analysis or planning. It’s essential to always be open and honest about the way your business is being handled by all those involved in its success. That is especially true for those family members who are given opportunities to

15 Sep
Citrus season preparedness: Harvesting and labor compliance

WE ARE JUST GETTING STARTED this season in the citrus industry, and if you haven’t already, it’s time to start streamlining the harvesting process. Specifically, there are tools available to make the ticketing and CitraNet process easier. Make sure that you manage your demand, crew schedules, and generate harvesting tickets in the field or on

12 Sep
Commissioner’s AgriCorner: Never a day’s rest for Florida’s energy

IT’S BEEN ONE YEAR since the Florida Legislature transferred the responsibilities of the state’s Energy Office to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and I have been working closely with industry and legislative leaders to create a sustainable energy future for Florida. As soon as the department took over, we began assessing all

08 Sep
PCFB | President’s column (September 2012)

AFFORDABILITY, ACCOUNTABILITY, AND SUSTAINABILITY are all ideas that we constantly strive for in the agriculture industry. Whether it’s the goal of providing affordable food and fiber to consumers, promoting land stewardship and sensible resource management practices, or seeking innovative and effective ways to grow and sustain our economy, all are essential goals for successful farming

15 Aug
Commissioner’s AgriCorner: Expanding markets for Florida agricultural products

Though the United States grows increasingly dependent on foreign countries for many necessities, we still boast a trade surplus when it comes to agriculture. The U.S. exports $8.2 billion more than we import in agricultural products. In Florida, exports of agricultural products are not only strong, but increasing. Over the past five years, overall exports

15 Aug
PCFB President’s Column: Learn about the candidates and issues

ELECTION CYCLES ARE ALWAYS critical to the future of our county, state, and nation. In the current election season, it is now more important than ever that we not only show up to the polls but are diligent in our efforts to educate ourselves on the candidates, issues, and all that is ultimately at stake.

15 Aug
How to treat a cut or skin irritation on goat or sheep

Behavioral changes in your goat or sheep sometimes can indicate a recent injury or skin laceration. To help you recognize behavioral changes, here are a few signs to look for: a decrease in feed intake; personality and social changes, such as being less responsive and isolated; and sometimes the reverse also is a sign of

15 Aug
Land management needs in the grove

As you know, there is a lot of uncertainty in the Florida citrus industry these days. Several factors have growers shaking their heads and wondering what the immediate future may hold. One specific issue is the current supply and demand for citrus nursery trees. Ensuring that your inventory is ready and at the level it

15 Aug
Publisher Letter: Small farms and businesses — a mainstay of America

Independently owned small businesses are a vital ingredient to the economy of our country, and their survival — as well as their success – is imperative. These companies are one of the primary reasons the United States is the beacon of hope and freedom. Particularly, farmers who operate small farms qualify as one of the

15 Aug
Early planning for prescribed burns

We have talked before about the need for prescribed fire as a tool in land management. I know it seems a little early, as we are in the middle of the rainy season, but it is never too early to plan ahead and ensure a successful autumn and beyond.

15 Aug
Electronic timekeeping for harvesting labor

As we start to think about the upcoming harvesting season for citrus and other crops, it’s time to start planning ahead. Along with keeping accurate records, filling the labor requirements to pick our state’s crops is becoming more challenging. Whether you have domestic or H2A workers, the problem for growers is ensuring accurate records for

15 Aug
Taking a look at contractors and vendors

Last month we put the spotlight on the staff that helps your business run on a daily basis. This time we will dig a little deeper into your business and address those individuals who are equally important to its success. Take some time this month to assess whether the contractors or vendors you utilize are

15 Aug
Editor’s Blog: Looking at the BIGGER picture of small farms

IN THIS (AUGUST 2012) EDITION of Central Florida Ag News, we’ve given some special attention to small farms and those commodities that can really help the “little guy” get ahead in a big world. Our cover story presents two hot up-and-coming crops in Florida agriculture; and our AgriLiving feature presents an interesting trend in bringing

15 Jul
Simple steps for assessing staff needs

Last month we discussed the importance of attracting and keeping your customers. Now let’s take a look at those individuals on the front line of your business whom you depend on to make your patrons happy and eager to return. A good staff member can make all the difference in the world in both positive

15 Jul
Cautions on fungus in your lawn

This time of year brings us heavy rain and some very hot temperatures. A combination of this kind usually causes fungus in many lawns to flare up dramatically. It’s important to take the correct steps to stop the spread as soon as possible. Make sure you don’t fertilize a fungus, as it will only make

15 Jul
Optimizing the field’s performance with Sunn Hemp

Here in Florida, we are lucky to be able to grow many diverse plants that help optimize the way our fields perform and our crops produce. One such plant is the Sunn Hemp. Many Florida growers use this nifty annual legume as a cover crop, and their benefits to the agriculture industry are amazing.

15 Jul
The battle for your lawn and garden

NOW THAT JULY has arrived, here are some tips you can arm yourself with for your lawn and garden. This month is the time for summer fertilization of your lawn. It’s also a good time to repair, renovate, or plant. It is key to work in as much organic materials, such as peat, manure, and

15 Jul
Cold chain: On the front lines of food defense

With all the time, manpower, and costs invested in cold chain management, there are crucial issues that may be overlooked. First and foremost, train and trust your personnel to alert management of any observed product condition or any chain of events that is out of standards. Food defense is something that should be taken very

15 Jul
My newest veterinarian venture

My love for working with horses and animals began while I was young and shared a Welsh pony named Pharlap with my sisters. My interest only grew and was nurtured through the activities I participated in for nineteen years on our Quarter Horse gelding, named Hondo. Currently, I’m performing in obstacle challenges. I pursued and

15 Jun
Hot topics for your lawn this summer

With all the heat and rain we are experiencing lately, it’s that time of year when the pests come out in full force. Make sure to get a good systemic insecticide put down on your lawn to help prevent pest infestation. These yard-consuming critters will destroy your lawn and ornamentals if they are left unchecked.

15 Jun
Microsoft wins big — What does it mean for you?

IN A RECENT technology journal competition, featuring vendor ratings in 27 categories, Microsoft took first place in many of the key groups: Cloud Applications, Business Intelligence, Data and Information Management (SQL database), Collaboration Software, and Middleware, just to mention a few. So, what does that mean for you?

15 Jun
Editor’s Blog: Rounding up blueberries, bees, and a special tribute

Okay, it’s no secret. You know it’s our Annual Blueberry Round Up edition because we have blueberries on our cover. Plus, if you’ve been reading the last two years of coverage on the Florida blueberry harvest, you probably could have guessed this was coming. But be warned, this edition is like none other you’ve seen

15 May
Why temperature is so important to the cold supply chain

NOW THAT WE’VE CLARIFIED the essential trailer and warehousing components of the cold supply chain, let’s reinforce and fully understand why temperature maintenance in this intricate process is so important. So many of the products we use in our daily lives depend on being kept at a specific temperature during the time it takes to

15 May
Monitoring your irrigation during dry season

EVERY YEAR, it seems to take longer and longer for the parched months of March, April, and May to pass before the rain we need finally arrives. Now that we are still in the thick of the dry season, we have some tips to help keep your yard and plants looking the way they should.

15 May
Get down to business with BI software

IN THIS MONTH’S COLUMN, we will discuss business intelligence (BI) software. If it sounds complicated, don’t worry. It’s actually really simple! Business intelligence software utilizes data from your existing system, whether it is a database application or a simple Excel spreadsheet. This software can take the data you already have and unleash the potential of

15 May
What a tradeshow can do for your agribusiness

IT OCCURS TO ME that anyone in business, be it a grower or supplier, stands to gain valuable knowledge by attending tradeshows. There is a wealth of information on a wide variety of subjects all under one roof. Whatever you need to research and explore, a tradeshow is the perfect place to be.

15 May
When is it best to reinvest in your land?

THERE IS an old saying that goes, “If you cheat the farm, the farm will cheat you.” We are certainly going through some terrible economic times, but I believe that we often get distracted when dealing with general news media and only see the negative articles. The truth is that very positive things are happening

15 May
CFMG Publisher Letter: One great edition leads to another

THIS EDITION, we’ve got a whole lineup of great stories about women and their diverse roles in the driving economic force that is Florida agriculture. I particularly enjoyed the story about April Miller on PAGE 18 (of our print edition) and Suzanne Churchwell on PAGE 27. These women are not just wives, and moms, and