| Season’s surprises keep Florida blueberry growers on their toes as they continue to diversify | Florida’s blueberry crop was lighter than anticipated this year, which meant higher prices overall for the state’s blueberry growers. With gross prices averaging $5 a pound, some growers had a pretty good year; but returns were mixed. “This is
New leadership, same educational goal: Rising to the challenge as the new Polk FFA District Advisor
The baton has been passed to the new Polk FFA District Advisor, William Paul Webb, who will start his new position on July 1 to replace the retiring David Byrd, the FFA District Advisor since 2001. [emember_protected custom_msg=”Click here and register now to read the rest of the article!”] “Paul has been genuinely involved in
| Coca-Cola company invests in Florida’s citrus-growing future | It might sound contradictory that the manufacturer of a popular soft drink would expand into Polk County’s traditional citrus industry, but Andrew Meadows doesn’t see it that way. [emember_protected custom_msg=”Click here and register now to read the rest of the article!”] He notes, for example, Minute
| Cow dogs bred and trained for life and work on the ranch | The dogs working with Florida cowboys aren’t quite like Lassie, the popular television Collie featured on television rescuing a boy named Timmy Martin and traversing the wilderness with forestry Ranger Corey Stewart. But they are just as loyal and do a
| Florida Citrus Hall of Fame’s 2013 Fellowship Students help preserve significant industry artifacts and more | John Jackson, chairman of the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame, which honors distinguished leaders who have made significant contributions to Florida’s citrus industry, announced that the nonprofit organization’s three new Hall of Fame Fellowship Students would be helping
| Instructing local students while strengthening the relationship between rider and equine | The location may have changed, but the enthusiasm and excitement that happens each summer for students in the Florida 4-H Horsemanship School never dwindles. From June 9-14 (for Western Riding) and June 23-28 (for English Riding) of this year, students ages 11-18
| Harley Zoeckler: Inspiring a thirst for knowledge about beef and agriculture | The sash may say Sweetheart, but for Harley Zoeckler, the 2013 Polk County Cattlemen’s Association Sweetheart, the title is an open door to her future goals in promoting agriculture. [emember_protected custom_msg=”Click here and register now to read the rest of the article!”]
| Preserving the history of Florida’s citrus industry | The Florida Citrus Hall of Fame has received several significant collections this past year of historical artifacts from notable collectors of citrus memorabilia, including citrus crate labels from Jim Ellis (Bartow, Fla.), postcards from Jerry Chicone (Orlando, Fla.) and Brenda Eubanks Burnette (West Palm Beach, Fla.),
| Safety tips for before, during and after your trip | The spring weather seems to beckon everyone toward travel and as a horse owner, the obvious choice is to travel somewhere with your horses in tow. But whether you are traveling with your horses for recreational or competition purposes, preparing for the trip from
| Agri-Fest: Where kids see and experience Florida’s cattle industry firsthand | Seeing a cowboy, holding a bullwhip, learning about cows in Florida — at first, it might sound like the topics at-hand for local fourth-graders attending the beef station at this year’s Agri-Fest are more fit for a western fictional tale than academics, but
| Local teen forms 4-H club for disabled children | Chain of Lakes Collegiate High School student Meg Jessee’s quest for a fun way to earn service hours has turned into a real blessing for disabled children at Our Children’s Academy in Lake Wales. Now three years and nearly 400 service hours later, the 16-year-old
| Preview: UF horse-judging contest slated in April | A 17-year old Lake Wales girl is gearing up to participate in the 4-H/Future Farmers of America (FFA) Horse Judging Contest at the University of Florida (UF) next month. Emily Eckstein, a Polk County homeschooler, is part of an intermediate horse-judging team that is too young
| One man’s pigpen is Emily Heuer’s treasure | Her older sister seemed to have fun in Future Farmers of America raising hogs, so Emily Heuer felt she would have fun as well. Yet, at the close of her fourth year with the agriculture program, Emily discovered she not only gained memorable times with others
Scientists Get Creative to Come up with Manageable Solutions to Citrus Disease There’s no cure yet for citrus greening, or Huanglongbing (HLB), but researchers are learning a lot more about managing the disease spread by the Asian psyllid. “We really don’t have a solution as of yet. We have some great management tools,” says Dr.
Unique Aspects of an Already-Unique Breed Since the repeal of Prohibition, Clydesdale horses have become synonymous with Budweiser beer. The flamboyant draft horse is featured in national advertising, parades and horse shows. But the humble beginnings of the breed were on the farm. And although Clydesdales were replaced by tractors in many places, they are
It’s halfway through the harvest and the public is now starting to enjoy (this month and over the next few months) the sweet, delicious taste of Florida hand-picked strawberries. This season so far has growers seeing red (literally): Picking high-quality strawberries in large volumes, thanks to another warmer-than-usual winter in Florida, and an early decline
A Farming Tradition of Bill Green and His Sons At 85 years-old (86 the day this article goes to print), Bill Green is optimistic about the Florida citrus industry. “If they enjoy what they are doing as much as I do, there will always be citrus in the state of Florida,” says Green.
From Labor Issues to HLB Research: A Look at Ongoing Challenges for the Year Florida’s citrus industry is seeking $9 million from the state Legislature this year as it battles citrus greening, or Huanglongbing (HLB), a potentially devastating disease spread by the Asian psyllid.
Two Things Each You Might NOT Know About the 2013 Florida Citrus Hall of Fame Inductees COLONEL FRANCIS L. DANCY During the Civil War, he was Adjutant General of the Confederacy, serving in Florida and Northern Virginia. The defeat of the South and the prohibition of former Confederate officers from holding elective office during Reconstruction
The USDA Establishes a New Animal Traceability Rule A new form of protection will be introduced in 2013 in the fight against disease outbreaks in the transportation of livestock and poultry. Come March, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will establish the final animal traceability (ADT) rule from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
500th Anniversary of Ponce de Leon’s Arrival Sparks Renewed Interest in Heritage Floridians across the state are honoring their roots this year as the state marks the 500th anniversary of Ponce de Leon’s arrival. With a Viva Florida 500 initiative, there will be a flurry of exhibits showcasing the cultures that make up the state’s
Taking Top Honors at the State FFA Citrus Career Development Event Florida leads the country in citrus, producing 63 percent of the total United States production alone. Leading the state is Polk County, with 90,050 acres of citrus production. With Polk’s number one ranking, it’s no wonder that this year’s Florida FFA state-winning citrus team
Opening New Doors with the United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement A “new deal” recently has been established in United States agriculture, and though it is not like FDR’s New Deal, it has also been created to economically boost United States farmers and businesses. [emember_protected custom_msg=”Click here and register now to read the rest of the
What is your horse trying to tell you? It might be easier to determine than you may think. Central Florida Ag News took a trip around the stables with Dr. Saundra TenBroeck, state extension horse specialist at the University of Florida, to learn more about horses’ various behaviors and how owners can help ease any
Florida’s citrus crop will be smaller than last year, according to the latest estimates by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The January estimate was 142 million boxes, which reflects a projected decline of three million boxes of Valencia oranges since the 2011-2012 harvest season.
TiAnViCa Volunteer Shares her Joy of Helping Others Only one visit to TiAnViCa Riding Academy in Lakeland turned Grace Doran into a regular volunteer for the therapeutic, horse-riding facility. Working her way up from “pooper-scooper” to certified Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship Incorporated instructor in three years, Grace enjoys helping children and adults with special
There is a lot more to Florida than beautiful beaches and amusement parks. That’s the message of 53-year-old Eric Dusenbery, founder of Cinderic Documentaries, Inc., a DeLand nonprofit organization formed in 2006.
The Agriculture Way of Life: Guarding Water Quality and Preserving Wildlife At one time, the Everglades covered nearly 11,000 square miles. Water flowed south from the Kissimmee River into Lake Okeechobee and through the Everglades into Florida Bay. But draining the marshes has cut the Everglades to half the size it was 100 years ago.
An event to support the founding of a world-class education program Warner University is determined — with the help of some significant partners and community support — to provide a world-class agriculture education opportunity for Central Florida college students. The idea has been gaining traction for several years, and fundraising for the facilities was officially
Service to the Community On and Off the Groves Their workplaces are the groves of Central Florida, caring for the land that supplies the local and national communities with fresh fruit. But service to the community doesn’t stop at the groves, instead spreading to volunteering for farming organizations, county boards, and local charter schools.
Equine Artist Mary Verrandeaux Uses Her Horse-Show Background and Love of Animals to Bring Her Animal-Inspired Portraits to Life Capturing each unique personality is what equine artist Mary Verrandeaux of Ocala tries to achieve with her portraits of horses, other animals, and sometimes people. “With any portrait you really want to capture the personality, such
Chad Anderson: Watching the Prairie Disappear “In this photo I was seeking to capture the reflection of the prairie in the cow’s eye as it watches the range disappear. Cattle are the ultimate symbol for ranching, which represents a way of life, an important ecosystem, and much more that is being lost due to economic
By day, Chad Anderson is a biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Florida Keys. By night and on weekends, he is a conservation photographer. In both jobs, he works to preserve Florida’s wildlife heritage. “Conservation and Florida, those are my passions,” says Anderson, who was born in St. Petersburg and raised
Crafting a Pioneer Art with a Modern-Day Look “There’s just something special about a custom creation. It is all about you,” says Susan Harrell, owner and leathersmith of a home-based business, Almost Famous LeatherWorks. “It says, ‘I am unique and what I like matters.’ ” Harrell’s goal is to provide quality products to her customers
Nestled between Tampa and Orlando is an 83-year-old garden that attracts people from Florida and around the world. Originally a gift to the American people by Dutch immigrant Edward Bok, Bok Tower Gardens includes nearly 50 acres of gardens and a neo-Gothic Singing Tower.
Equines communicate through various physical and behavioral signs. From the position of the ears to nervous nibbling and gait are all signals that indicate their emotions or physical well being. Your horse is always trying to tell you something. Are you ready to hear what your horse has to say? There is new technology available
| Polk County Farm Bureau recognizes outstanding educators in agriculture | Excellence comes in many forms. This year, it came in the form of three caring and committed teachers who work not only for the future of agriculture, but also for making sure that youth have a comprehensive understanding of its importance in America. Marie
TEACHING, RESEARCH AND OUTREACH are the core of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), which is a premier institution within the land-grant university system. But it is the research that is the red thread that connects UF/IFAS with the production of food, biofuel, and the responsible stewardship of Florida’s natural resources. [emember_protected
FREQUENCY IDENTIFICATION (RFID) has been around for some time. It is wireless technology that uses three components: a tag (which consists of a microchip and a radio antenna), a reader, and a computer system. Most of us are familiar with its uses in Florida’s SunPass prepaid toll system or the microchips implanted in our pets
As you enjoy a sweet bowl of strawberry shortcake this season, know that many weeks of planning, tending, and caring for crops went into this delectable treat that is, and has been for many years, the signature of Plant City.
| Eucalyptus, sugar cane and other crops get an agritechnology makeover | In Frostproof, Phillip Rucks Nursery is growing half a million Eucalyptus trees. Although Eucalyptus trees currently are marketed for garden mulch, the fast-growing hardwood is poised for a potential broad new market — as biomass for an electricity-generating facility.
BAXTER TROUTMAN is a fourth-generation Florida cracker with a long history of success in the citrus industry, business, and politics. Besides his professional history and cultural heritage, Troutman possesses a lifetime of hunting experience. As an avid hunter whose skills have been tested on terrains throughout the country, he saw the desire for a professional,
GARY MCKENZIE LOVES THE CHALLENGE of catching redfish. He enjoys stealthily creeping upon and tricking them. “It’s like hunting and fishing at the same time,” he explains. “You watch the fish eat your lure.” The autobody technician at Bartow Ford enjoys traveling to fish along the Louisiana coast southeast of New Orleans, or at Florida’s
| Fun day ideas for you and your horse | THE UNIQUE RELATIONSHIP between horse and rider is a bond that grows over time through rigorous training sessions and the companionable daily routines. There’s a season for everything under the sun, as the saying goes; a time for work and a time for play. This
| Recreational time is a precious commodity for this citrus grower | WORKING LONG HOURS has been — and still is — a way of life for citrus grower Dennis Carlton. While spending long hours in his groves making sure both trees and fruit are getting the best of care brings pleasure to Carlton, he
| A look at the economic impact of agriculture and nature-based tourism | FLORIDA IS WELL KNOWN as a recreation and tourism leader. With its dynamic entertainment industry, beautiful coastline, and favorable climate, one could be forgiven to overlook the many contributions of an uncharacteristic recreation powerhouse, namely Florida’s nature-based tourism. There’s a lot to
| Four rules to put into practice | During the London 2012 Olympic Games, the equestrian sport was held at the historic Greenwich Park, which was built around 1433 as a Royal Park. Though the site has neither stables nor courses for equestrian disciplines, temporary structures for the events were built. Great care and safety
| Plant breeding and other research that helps small farms | FLORIDA – THE OLIVE STATE? While the citrus industry is far and away the Sunshine State’s agriculture ambassador, olives, as well as blueberries, pomegranates, grapes, lettuce, clams, peaches, and more, represent new, alternative crops that are thriving on Florida farms.
| UF/IFAS offers beef cattle reproductive management school | REPRODUCTIVE EFFICIENCY has long been recognized as the most important factor influencing the economic viability of commercial cattle operations. Good reproductive management can make the difference between profit and loss in a cow operation. The UF/IFAS South Florida Beef Forage Team will offer an intensive course
| A longstanding ag tradition is diversifying its membership | THE 64-YEAR-OLD FLORIDA CLUB, a social club promoting the state’s citrus industry, is broadening its focus and membership to include agriculture as a whole. “People are diversifying, rather than being in just oranges and grapefruit,” says club President Chris Barranco, manager of international sales for
| State chef creates culinary masterpieces with Gulf seafood at the Olympics | JUSTIN PATRICK TIMINERI, Florida’s culinary ambassador, went to London to promote the state’s seafood at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. “It was a huge success. We got to showcase Florida seafood and other agricultural products,” he says. Timineri whipped up Crispy Pan
| Peach and pomegranate crops are gaining popularity in the Sunshine State | CLINT UPDIKE GREW UP in the citrus industry. He’s a grower and caretaker. As president of Altura-based Updike Citrus Services, he caretakes some 2,300 acres of citrus. But an increasing number of growers are trying their hands at other crops.
| Company constructs new plant to meet the needs of its customers | For Florida-based KeyPlex, business necessity met with opportune timing and formed an almost-perfect union last year. The beneficiaries today include the many customers, in the United States and 12 other markets, that use the micronutrient and biopesticide products KeyPlex develops and manufacturers
| Local families keep backyard coops for homegrown eggs | There’s a new chicken in town, and you’ll probably find it in your neighbor’s backyard. A growing trend in Central Florida is the owning and tending of your own backyard chicken coop to collect your own eggs. There are a few movements that have contributed
| Citrus annual conference has become industry staple | More than 650 people attended the eighth Florida Citrus Industry Annual Conference in June at the Coconut Point Hyatt in Bonita Springs, making it a smashing success.
IN THE PHOTOS: Left, Dominique “Mingy” Ercoli bales hay on his 90th birthday. Mingy recently passed and left the family farm to his son, Richard Ercoli. Right, Richard Ercoli is pictured with his son, Carson. THIS IS THE STORY of one family’s rise from the damp, darkened and eerie tunnels of the underground coal mines
In the photo: Larry Black with wife Jenny and kids Julia and Varn are among many Florida citrus growers who are in it for the long haul. | Growers making gains against greening | VIC STORY JR. grew up in the middle of an orange grove his father planted. So, in his 66 years he’s
Caption: On June 27, 2012, the flooding in some areas of Florida was 3 to 4 feet deep, as shown in the photos here. | Assessing the potential devastation to Florida agriculture | In late June, Tropical Storm Debby stalled over Apalachicola Bay for more than 24 hours, unloading several inches of rain on Florida’s
A horse can startle, spook, or shy from a surprising or strange sight, smell, or sound based on his characteristic reactivity. There are many facets that contribute to the severity of a horse’s reaction, such as the temperance of breed, personality, experiences, trainer or owner management, and medical conditions.
| One rancher’s life pursuit to stay on top of Florida’s cattle commerce while meeting consumer demand | Keeping up with the cattle commerce and pleasing consumers is an ongoing challenge for Florida’s rancher, thus making his paycheck defenseless. What breed brought the highest price the last two or three years may not be the
It is estimated by experts that the U.S. honeybee industry is responsible for pollinating almost $15 billion worth of crops each year. This important little bee is an essential part of Florida’s precious ecosystem. Much of the food we eat depends on the health and vitality of these little honeybees. That is why the discovery
| Recognized for putting the world of Florida citrus above himself | Here at Central Florida Ag News, we would like to take a moment to congratulate one of the most dedicated gentleman to represent our state’s citrus industry. Florida Grower has named Mr. Victor “Vic” Story, Jr., the 2012 Citrus Achievement Award winner. Sponsored
High school student has Brangus in the blood Quinn Carter grew up barrel racing, hunting with her father, and enjoying her days on the family’s ranch, Rafter Double C. It wasn’t, however, until her neighbor, Lindsey Chism, invited her to a Future Farmers of America competition that Quinn became interested in showing Brangus. “Before, I
In the photo: At the Polk County Farm Bureau Harvest Celebration, Ray Crawford, left and in inset photo, receives an award from PCFB President Les Dunson for his many years of service to the Farm Bureau. Ray Crawford on ‘retired’ life after the Florida Farm Bureau USUALLY, THE PHRASE “hit the ground running” is used
| Recognize the symptoms and know what to do | “We’re having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave, the temperature’s rising, it isn’t surprising …” that your equine might be suffering from heat stress. Just as we need to keep ourselves well hydrated and cool, we also need to care for our equines in
Ray Crawford on ‘retired’ life USUALLY, the phrase “hit the ground running” is used to describe how an employee begins a new job. However, in this instance, Ray Crawford recently retired and those four words easily describe how he’s handling his golden years. “It’s going to take me years to catch up on all my
Apitherapy on the table at the May 2012 Beekeeping Seminar YOU WOULD THINK everyone would want to avoid being stung by bees – especially with the proliferation of more vicious Africanized bees in Florida. But bee stings, or rather bee venom, can be a good thing. Just ask Robert Messineo.
As we celebrate our freedom on Independence Day with family and fireworks, as well as great food grown by our farmers, it’s easy to forget the men and women who sacrificed in order to fight for the great liberties we enjoy every day. Al Bellotto, a man as rooted in Florida agriculture as a tree
WHEN LIFE gives you lemons, make lemonade. Or so the saying goes. But what do you do when you have blemished blueberries, or your pickers leave with lots of berries still on the plants? Some blueberry growers let the public do the harvesting, but Ken Patterson has a different solution. He makes wine, blueberry wine
AGRICULTURE HAS BEEN a way of life for Suzanne Churchwell, a science teacher at Plant City High School. Teaching has enabled Churchwell to combine her love of love of agriculture, science, and everyday life. “My brother and I took odd jobs picking peanuts, oranges, and strawberries, and we were able to save some money so
IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA, many problems present themselves on a yearly basis once the wet season arrives. The challenge of managing the Everglades and the natural systems of the area was one that desperately needed a touch of innovation. That is why South Florida Water Management District Principal Engineer Alaa Ali has developed a
MOVE OVER GEORGIA. Florida is on the way to a peachy crop. The trouble with growing peaches in Florida has always been that the Sunshine State can’t give peaches the cold shoulder. The fuzzy fruit needs a certain number of chilly hours to rest and relax and regenerate to produce a crop.
Three Methods for Farmers on the Road to Maximizing Production Farming has made tremendous strides and advancements since the pioneer days, when crops were at the mercy of Mother Nature and the ability of farmers and animals to handle the labor. Today, such options as greenhouses, hoophouses (also known as high tunnels), and hydroponic farming
Sewing and Reaping the Knowledge for Success Small farms have always existed, but in Florida, they historically represented a less visible portion of the agriculture industry. Demand has sparked new opportunities, however, and a more definitive view of this agricultural segment has surfaced. Small farmers have new opportunities from consumer demand, experts say, and support
The Florida Automated Weather Network (FAWN) was established in 1998 in response to the discontinuation of the National Weather Service (NWS) agricultural weather forecast products. What began as a network of 11 Cooperative Extension Service sites in Lake and Orange counties is now a statewide system of 36 sites located from Homestead to Jay, near
1. BE PART OF THE SOLUTION – “Be part of the industry that sustains mankind,” says David Byrd, an Agricultural Resource Specialist for Polk County Schools and Future Farmers of America’s District Advisor, citing the need to provide food for the Earth’s growing population.
According to the expert team at AccuWeather.com and Joe Bastardi, the Chief Long-Range Meteorologist and Hurricane Forecaster, the 2010 Hurricane season has the potential to be “extreme” and “much more like 2008 than 2009 as far as the overall threat to the United States’ East and Gulf coasts. ” Fortunately, threats to inland Polk County
The gentle nature of the horse has made it a much sought-after creature for therapy, especially among children. The movement of the horse has addressed many physical disabilities, giving experts a special interest in these animals. Heike Reeves, a physical therapist at Our Children’s Academy in Lake Wales, explains, “A horse has the same rhythm
Jerry Newlin has weathered many disease outbreaks in the citrus industry, from canker to Tristeza and Blossom Blight, but citrus greening has proven the worst outbreak he’s seen, and the worst the Florida citrus industry has had to face. Newlin is vice president of citrus operations for Orange-Co, a citrus grove near Arcadia that, like
| What Crystal Lake Middle School is teaching students with their Aquaculture Program | Crystal Lake Middle School (CLMS), Lakeland, is land-locked in the middle of the peninsula, but that hasn’t stopped the school’s agricultural education program from exploring new areas, specifically aquaculture, by introducing saltwater fish into urban Polk County and immersing the students