Florida growers enrolled in the Best Management Practices (BMP) Program have a little breathing room to remedy fertilizer applications that were washed away by Hurricane Ian earlier in the year. The hurricane struck Florida in mid- to late September and caused a significant amount of damage and flooding. Once the flood waters receded, Florida growers in the BMP program realized that their latest fertilizer applications likely went with the floodwaters. Florida growers were then faced with the decision of either having crops growing without enough nutrients or being out of compliance with their BMP manuals. Industry leaders like Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association (FFVA) President Michael Joyner called for considerations concerning fertilizer applications from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS).
First, FDACS temporarily suspended BMP site visits to those counties that were most impacted by Hurricane Ian. Then, in mid-November, FDACS issued a Fertilizer Application Exemption. This exemption created an emergency rule that allows Florida growers in the BMP program to reapply fertilizers outside of BMP recommendations, if necessary.
Details of the FDACS Fertilizer Application Exemption
FDACS is allowing enrolled producers to apply a replacement fertilizer for those crops affected by flooding from Hurricane Ian, and those applications will not be considered out of compliance with the fertilizer recommendations found in their BMP manuals. The BMP Program aims to “improve water quality while maintaining agricultural production” by ensuring that producers don’t overuse fertilizers on crops. By using only the needed amount of nutrients, unused fertilizers cannot get into waterways.
The emergency rule created by the exemption applies to applications made between Oct. 1, 2022, and when the exemption expires on Feb. 19, 2023.
Furthermore, FDACS recommended that those producers considering replacement fertilizer applications conduct soil testing beforehand to confirm that additional fertilizer applications are necessary. Additionally, FDACS maintained that growers must still maintain applicable BMP records of their fertilizer applications to remain in compliance.
Counties with suspended BMP Implementation Verification visits include Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Collier, Desoto, Flagler, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Polk, Putnam, Saint Johns, Saint Lucie, Sarasota, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia.
This column is sponsored by Griffin Fertilizer Co., and the opinions expressed herein may not reflect those of CFAN or of its advertisers.
BIO: Mike Roberts is the Vice President of the Frostproof, Fla.-based Griffin Fertilizer Co. Roberts joined the company in November 2011. He has spent the majority of his career in the fertilizer/agchem industry. Roberts earned a Bachelor of Science degree in citrus production from Florida Southern College in Lakeland. For more information, visit griffinfertilizer.com.