Tag Archive: Fruit

Struggling to Grow Fruit Trees? Try These Lesser Known Florida-Friendly Edible Options!

Northwest Floridians are lucky.  We get to bask in the warm sunshine at least eight months of the year, consider it cold weather when we have to break out the fleece pullover and none of us live more than a few hours’ drive to the whitest sand you ever saw.  However, those conditions have consequences.  That warm sun and plentiful rain yields heat and humidity, a perfect breeding ground for all manner of pests and diseases, not to mention seriously cutting down on necessary chill hours required by many species.  We’ll never be able to grow peaches like they do in Georgia.  No one is in any danger of mistaking a Florida apple for one from Michigan.  Pomegranates, olives, and nectarines like California?  Forget about it.  All of those species will mostly survive and grow but in most cases, the inputs of labor and protective chemicals greatly outweigh the output of fruit.  For most of us it is just not worth the time and effort to turn a crop!

We have a couple of adapted, well-known stalwarts to turn to though.  Any gardener worth his salt has a few productive rabbiteye blueberries (Vaccinium ashei), a pear (Pyrus communis), an old reliable fig tree (Ficus carica), and a citrus or two of some kind (though with the devastating disease known as Citrus Greening looming on the horizon, backyard citrus may decline in popularity in the near future).  However, hobby fruit growers aren’t often content to stick to those standards though.  We tend to be an adventurous, progressive lot, always looking for new species to grow and constantly pushing climatic and adaptation limits of species, with varying success. For the Panhandle backyard fruit orchardist looking for a little variety but demanding a high probability of success, there are three unusual Florida Friendly trees requiring little winter chill that fit the bill perfectly:  Pawpaw (Asimina triloba), Japanese Persimmon (Diospyros kaki), and Loquat (Eriobtrya japonica).

Pawpaw fruit

The pawpaw (yes it’s pronounced exactly like you think it is) is an altogether unusual tree.  For starters, it is one of the most adaptable plants in cultivation, growing native from New York all the way down to the Sunshine State.  It would be a beautiful tree if it never produced a single fruit; the large leaves droop naturally, lending a decidedly tropical feel to the garden and the understated purple-brown flowers are some of the more attractive of our native spring blooming trees.  But, to be sure, the fruit are the real attraction here.  Technically berries, the bluish-green, three to five inch long, oval-shaped fruit ripen in the late summer (August-October) and have an extremely unique taste often likened to banana or custard.  Pawpaws occur naturally in moist, well-drained soils and thrive in both shade and sun; site accordingly and this unusual little native fruit tree should perform admirably for you!

While more common than Pawpaw, Japanese Persimmon still has not reached the cosmopolitan status of pear or fig or the like for reasons unclear to me!  Native to eastern Asia, Japanese Persimmon is right at home in the Panhandle where it rewards gardeners each fall with outstanding reddish/orange foliage and a reliable crop of beautiful, baseball-sized, orange fruit possessing a crisp, sweet taste that can be eaten fresh or used in cooking.  I especially like the fruit when it is made into a cakey “bread” similar to banana bread.  It is a remarkably forgiving tree, growing and fruiting reliably with little help from the orchardist.  Japanese Persimmon is generally sold as one of the selected cultivars, ‘Fuyu’ being the most common and probably the best.  The species prefers full sun and moist, well-drained soil but does just fine without irrigation once it reaches establishment.  A bonus, you only need to plant one as Japanese Persimmon does not require a pollinator!  (Note:  Persimmons can be astringent or non-astringent.  If you plant an astringent cultivar, be sure to let the fruit ripen completely before eating as they are unpalatable until that point.  Most are probably better off going with a non-astringent cultivar such as ‘Fuyu’.)

Persimmon fruit

A lesser-known gem of the coastal south, Loquat is hard to beat.  It’s a great addition to the landscape, the cinnamon colored bark, foot-long “cabbagey” textured leaves and early spring flowers outdo many purely ornamental species.  The yellowish-orange fruit that follow are outstanding picked and eaten fresh off the tree.  Flavor is reminiscent of citrus with a sweet taste and a soft texture.  Loquat flourishes in full sun and once established needs little to no supplemental fertilization or irrigation.  As with Japanese Persimmon, Loquat is self-fertile and does not need a pollinator so just one tree will do (trust me, one healthy loquat will make enough fruit to feed a small army)!

Loquat fruit

If you are indeed a backyard orcharding enthusiast and want to expand your horizons to include more than the same old standard species that everyone else grows or maybe you’re just frustrated with trying to grow popular but ill-adapted species like peach and apple, you could do a lot worse than including one or all of Pawpaw, Japanese Persimmon, and Loquat into your garden!  For more information on fruit trees and any other horticultural questions you may have, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office.  Happy gardening!

 

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Author: Daniel J. Leonard – d.leonard@ufl.edu

Horticulture Agent, Walton County

Daniel J. Leonard

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/25/struggling-to-grow-fruit-trees-try-these-lesser-known-florida-friendly-edible-options/

Lack of Winter Chill a Problem for Fruit

Lack of Winter Chill a Problem for Fruit

Arapaho blackberry has chill requirements that match those received in our area. Photo by Beth Bolles, UF IFAS Extension

Many of us are enjoying warmer temperatures this winter, but many deciduous fruit crops really need cold temperatures in order to break dormancy for the year.  In areas that experience cold temperatures, plants have evolved the ability to survive by slowing growth and protecting sensitive tissues by going dormant.  In order to break out of dormancy and begin growth again, plants experience an amount of chill hours (temps between 32 and 45 degrees F) that is suitable for specific areas.  In our area, we normally range between 400 and 600 chills hours.

If we choose a fruit plant whose chill requirements match the amount of chill in our area, the plant will generally resume growth when it is safe for buds and tender tissues to develop.  If we choose a plant with chill requirements higher than the amount our area receives, then the plant is not signaled to break dormancy and we end up with very sparse growth and no fruit.

So far in the winter of 2016-17, some areas have not received ‘normal’ amounts of chilling temperatures.  Common fruit like apple, peach, some blueberries, and certain selections of blackberries may be affected by this by not breaking out of dormancy.  This can impact your flower and fruit formation.  For commercial growers, it can impact the amount of fruit available and even fruit prices at markets.

Since fruit trees are an investment of time and money, these are not plants that can be easily replanted to match chill hours with changing weather patterns. Perhaps planting fruit crops with a range of chill hours required might be beneficial  Your future decisions to grow fruit trees may include crops that don’t rely as much on chill hours to be successful. For more information, please consult the Dooryard Fruit Varieties guide from UF / IFAS Extension.

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Author: Beth Bolles – bbolles@ufl.edu

Horticulture Agent, Escambia County

Beth Bolles

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/02/14/lack-of-winter-chill-a-problem-for-fruit/

Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference Highlights

Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference Highlights

The Panhandle Ag Extension Team hosted the inaugural Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference on Tuesday, October 11.  The conference featured three concurrent session tracks for participants to choose from, a keynote address on whole farm business profitability, and a locally sourced lunch cooked by the Jackson County Master Gardeners.  More than 120 people attended the conference.

Trade Show Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference.

Participants of the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference enjoying the trade show. Photo Credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS Extension.

The conference was sponsored by 18 different businesses and organizations.  A Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Specialty Crop Block Grant provided funding for the educational resources for the conference.

Dr. Pete Vergot welcomes attendees to the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Libbie Johnson, UF/IFAS Extension.

Dr. Pete Vergot welcomes attendees to the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Libbie Johnson, UF/IFAS Extension.

Dr. Pete Vergot, Northwest District Extension Director, welcomed attendees to the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference by sharing his first-hand experiences about growing up on a vegetable farm in Michigan.

Extension Agent Bob Hochmuth reviewed various hydroponic media during a Protected Ag session at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Libbie Johnson, UF/IFAS Extension.

Extension Agent Bob Hochmuth reviewed various hydroponic media during a Protected Ag session at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Libbie Johnson, UF/IFAS Extension.

The Protected Agriculture sessions were organized by Leon County Extension Agent Molly Jameson.  Bob Hochmuth, UF/IFAS Regional Extension Agent  is a vegetable production specialist.  He spoke to participants about different hydroponic production systems and about fertilizer management.

Members of the Red Hills Small Farm Alliance presented during a Protected Agriculture session at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Libbie Johnson, UF/IFAS Extension.

Members of the Red Hills Small Farm Alliance presented during a Protected Agriculture session at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Libbie Johnson, UF/IFAS Extension.

Tallahassee’s Red Hills Small Farm Alliance members Herman Holley, Katie Harris, and Wayne Hawthorne discussed their farming and marketing experiences with attendees at one of the Protected Agriculture sessions.  The Red Hills Small Farm Alliance is a 501c3 non-profit organization that assists small farms in the Red Hills Region with production and marketing.

Dr. Jeff Williamson presenting on blueberry varieties at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Matt Orwat, UF/IFAS Extension.

Dr. Jeff Williamson presenting on blueberry varieties and production at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Matt Orwat, UF/IFAS Extension.

The Fruit & Berry sessions were organized by Washington County Extension Agent Matt Orwat.  UF/IFAS Blueberry Specialist Dr. Jeff Williamson talked to participants about blueberry production practices and blueberry varieties.

Dr. Violeta Tsolova presenting about grape varieties at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Matt Orwat, UF/IFAS Extension.

Dr. Violeta Tsolova presenting about grape varieties at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Matt Orwat, UF/IFAS Extension.

Dr. Violeta Tsolova gave participants an in-depth review of grape varieties suitable for North Florida.  Dr. Tsolova is a Viticulture Specialist at Florida A&M University.

Dr. Ayanava Majumdar presenting at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference.

Dr. Ayanava Majumdar presenting at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference.

The Diversified Agriculture sessions were organized by Dr. Josh Freeman.  Dr. Freeman is the UF/IFAS Vegetable Specialist housed at the University of Florida’s North Florida Research & Education Center in Quincy, FL. During one of the Diversified Agriculture sessions, Dr. Ayanava Majumdar, from Auburn University, taught participants about various Integrated Pest Management strategies for insect management in vegetable crops.  Dr. Majumdar also presented in one of the Protected Agriculture sessions.

Participants lining up for Southern Craft Creamery ice cream at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS Extension.

Participants lining up for Southern Craft Creamery ice cream at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS Extension.

After the morning sessions were complete, the attendees of the conference were treated to a home cooked meal prepared by the Jackson County Master Gardeners. The lunch featured squash from farmer Allen Childs in Sneads, FL and peas from J&J Produce in Cottondale, FL.  The lunch was capped off by ice cream from Southern Craft Creamery in Marianna, FL. Snack breaks included chocolate milk from the Ocheesee Creamery in Blountstown, FL.

Keynote Speaker Richard Wiswall (Cate Farm, East Montpelier, VT) talked to participants about building a farm business. Photo Credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS Extension.

Keynote Speaker Richard Wiswall (Cate Farm, East Montpelier, VT) talked to participants about building a farm business. Photo Credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS Extension.

To kick off the afternoon events, Farmer Richard Wiswall from Cate Farm in East Montpelier, VT talked to participants about managing a successful farm enterprises.  He shared his experiences about starting with a small farm and growing over time as finances allowed.  Richard also led a farm business seminar in the afternoon.

Mack Glass welcomes Citrus Tour participants to Cherokee Satsuma's packing house. Photo Credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS Extension.

Mack Glass welcomes Citrus Tour participants to Cherokee Satsuma’s packing house. Photo Credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS Extension.

Attendees had to make a difficult decision when choosing between an afternoon tour, a farm business discussion, or a hands-on vegetable grafting demonstration.  Participants on the Citrus Tour got to see Mack Glass’ packing house and his satsuma grove south of Marianna.

Grafting tomato transplants at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS Extension.

Grafting tomato transplants at the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Photo Credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS Extension.

UF Grafting Specialist, Dr. Xin Zhao, came in town to teach participants how to graft vegetables.  Participants got to practice grafting tomato plants.

Participants of the Protected Agriculture Tour visited Fox Family Farm in Cottondale, FL. Photo Credit: Libbie Johnson, UF/IFAS Extension.

Participants of the Protected Agriculture Tour visited Fox Family Farm in Cottondale, FL. Photo Credit: Libbie Johnson, UF/IFAS Extension.

The Protected Agriculture Tour visited Fox Family Farm in Cottondale.  Fox Family Farm utilizes high tunnels to grow heirloom tomatoes and other vegetables.  They are a Certified USDA Organic Farm.

The Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference was a success thanks to the volunteers, sponsors, and Extension Agents and Specialists that made it all possible.  We are looking forward to the next Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference.

 

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Author: Matt Lollar – mlollar@ufl.edu

Matt Lollar is the Jackson County Horticulture Agent. He has 5 years of experience with University of Florida/IFAS Extension and he began his career in Sanford, FL as the Seminole County Horticulture Agent. Matt is originally from Belle Fontaine, AL. He earned his MS and BS degrees in Horticulture Production from Auburn University.

Matt Lollar

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/10/22/panhandle-fruit-vegetable-conference-highlights/

Oriental Persimmon: For the Specialty Fruit Market

Oriental Persimmon: For the Specialty Fruit Market

gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu

Oriental Persimmons Image Credit: (gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu)

A recent visit to the North Florida Research and Education Center reminded me of the potential of a specialty fruit that is often forgotten about in Northwest Florida, the Oriental persimmon. The Oriental, or Japanese, persimmon (Diospyros kaki) was introduced to the Southern United States in the mid to late 1800s. Although it is native to Japan and China, it is a close relative of the native persimmon Diospyros virginiana.

In the early 20th century the oriental persimmon was a popular fruit crop in Florida, but this industry declined due to marketing factors.  The Oriental persimmon is still a viable fruit for home gardens and specialty markets in north and central Florida, as it generally produces fruits of high quality and sufficient quantity.  Possible markets for the Oriental persimmon include direct farm sales through U-Pick, farmer’s markets, direct sales to restaurants and sales through specialty grocers.

Trees are available grafted onto local native persimmon root-stock, which enhances their ability to perform well in Northwest Florida soils.

Persimmons are divided into two types for the purposes of marketing: astringent and non-astringent. Astringent persimmons contain high concentrations of tannins which cause the mouth to pucker when eating the persimmon, if it is not fully ripe. When fully ripe, they are rich and sweet, but very soft. Non-astringent cultivars can be picked hard and ripened for 7-10 days at room temperature. Non-astringent persimmons were developed in Japan and introduced to the U.S. market in the 1980s. These have become very popular with home gardeners, since they can be eaten when firm, and have a crunchy texture. Persimmons are popular today in Asian cuisine and as a dessert, since they contain sugars at levels between 15 and 25%.

Persimmons have relatively few pests in Northwest Florida when compared to other higher maintenance fruits such as peaches and plums. Fungal leaf spot caused by species of cercospora, alternaria and anthracnose can cause premature defoliation. Fungicidal sprays are useful in controlling these diseases, if they are at high enough levels to cause tree injury. The stem and branch fungus Botrysphaeria dothidia will cause deep, elongated branch lesions similar to canker. These openings invite borers into the tree and can lead to loss of the limb structure. The best defense against this problem is a good offense; a healthy tree will be less likely to be attacked by this fungus. Dormant sprays of copper or sulfur based fungicides can also help reduce the incidence of all fungal diseases.

Fully ripe persimmon, ready for a scoop of ice cream !

Fully ripe persimmon, ready for a scoop of ice cream! (Image Credit Matthew Orwat)

The major insect pest of persimmon is scale. Thankfully, scale can be controlled with dormant oil or season all horticultural oil. Persimmon psylla can cause leaf deformation early in the season, but is not always a large enough problem to warrant control. Natural enemies often eliminate the need for chemical control. If control is necessary, several insecticides labeled for fruit trees will take care of the problem.  Twig girdlers can lay eggs on persimmon stems in September and October, and once hatched, the insect can girdle the stem and the stem will die. To control this pest it is important to remove dead and infected wood each growing season.

Out of the non-astringent cultivars, Fuyu regularly rates as the most popular and reliable cultivar. It does require thinning, since it often sets too much fruit, which can cause branches to bend and break. A good practice is to thin out 50% of the fruit during years in which fruit set is heavy.

Below is a chart of different non-astringent persimmon cultivar characteristics from the UF/IFAS Extension publication Oriental Persimmons in Florida, from April 1994 by E.P. Miller, Biologist; T.E. Crocker, Professor, Horticultural Sciences Department, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida.

Characteristics of non-astringent cultivars. SP 101, from April 1994 by E.P. Miller; T.E. Crocker,

Characteristics of non-astringent cultivars. SP 101, from April 1994 by E.P. Miller; T.E. Crocker,


For further information please consult the following publications

ENH 388: Diospyros kaki: Japanese Persimmon

Oriental Persimmon Varieties for North Florida (previous Panhandle Agriculture article)

 

 

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Author: Matthew Orwat – mjorwat@ufl.edu

Matthew J. Orwat started his career with UF / IFAS in 2011 and is the Horticulture Extension Agent for Washington County Florida. His goal is to provide educational programming to meet the diverse needs of and provide solutions for homeowners and small farmers with ornamental, turf, fruit and vegetable gardening objectives. Please feel free to contact him with any questions you may have.
http://washington.ifas.ufl.edu/lng/about/

Matthew Orwat

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/10/22/oriental-persimmon-for-the-specialty-fruit-market/

Persimmon: A Dooryard Fruit

Persimmon: A Dooryard Fruit

 

Image Credit: gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu

Image Credit: gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu

A recent visit to the North Florida Research and Education Center reminded me of a fruit that is often low profile in Northwest Florida, the Oriental persimmon. The Oriental, or Japanese, persimmon (Diospyros kaki) was introduced to the Southern United States in the mid to late 1800s. Although it is native to Japan and China, it is a close relative of the native persimmon Diospyros virginiana.

In the early 20th century the oriental persimmon was a popular fruit crop in Florida, but this industry declined due to marketing factors.  The Oriental persimmon is still a viable fruit for home gardens.

Trees are available grafted onto local native persimmon rootstock, which enhances their ability to perform well in Northwest Florida soils.

Persimmons are divided into two types for the purposes of marketing: astringent and non-astringent. Astringent persimmons contain high concentrations of tannins which cause the mouth to pucker when eating the persimmon if it is not fully ripe. When fully ripe, they are rich and sweet, but very soft. Non-astringent cultivars can be picked hard and ripened for 7-10 days at room temperature. Non-astringent persimmons were developed in Japan and introduced to the U.S. market in the 1980s. These have become very popular with home gardeners since they can be eaten when firm, and have a crunchy texture. Persimmons are popular today in Asian cuisine and as a dessert, since they contain sugars at levels between 15 and 25%.

Persimmons have relatively few pests in Northwest Florida when compared to other higher maintenance fruits such as peaches and plums. Fungal leaf spot caused by species of cercospora, alternaria and anthracnose can cause premature defoliation. Fungicidal sprays are useful in controlling these diseases if they are at high enough levels to cause tree injury. The stem and branch fungus Botrysphaeria dothidia will cause deep, elongated branch lesions similar to canker. These openings invite borers into the tree and can lead to loss of the limb structure. The best defense against this problem is a good offense; a healthy tree will be less likely to be attacked by this fungus. Dormant sprays of copper or sulfur based fungicides can also help reduce the incidence of all fungal diseases.

Fully ripe persimmon, ready for a scoop of ice cream !

Fully ripe persimmon, ready for a scoop of ice cream! (Image Credit Matthew Orwat)

The major insect pest of persimmon is scale. Thankfully, scale can be controlled with dormant oil or season all horticultural oil. Persimmon psylla can cause leaf deformation early in the season, but is not always a large enough problem to warrant control. Natural enemies often eliminate the need for chemical control. If control is necessary, several insecticides labeled for fruit trees will take care of the problem.  Twig girdlers can lay eggs on persimmon stems in September and October, and once hatched, the insect can girdle the stem and the stem will die. To control this pest it is important to remove dead and infected wood each growing season.

Out of the non-astringent cultivars, Fuyu regularly rates as the most popular and reliable cultivar. It does require thinning, since it often sets too much fruit, which can cause branches to bend and break. A good practice is to thin out 50% of the fruit during years in which fruit set is heavy.

Below is a chart of different non-astringent persimmon cultivar characteristics from the IFAS Extension publication SP 101, from April 1994 by E.P. Miller, Biologist; T.E. Crocker, Professor, Horticultural Sciences Department, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida.

 

persimmonchart

Characteristics of non-astringent cultivars. SP 101, from April 1994 by E.P. Miller; T.E. Crocker,

For further information please consult the UF / IFAS publication ENH 388: Diospyros kaki: Japanese Persimmon and the previous Panhandle Agriculture article Oriental Persimmon Varieties for North Florida .

 

 

PG

Author: Matthew Orwat – mjorwat@ufl.edu

Matthew J. Orwat started his career with UF / IFAS in 2011 and is the Horticulture Extension Agent for Washington County Florida. His goal is to provide educational programming to meet the diverse needs of and provide solutions for homeowners and small farmers with ornamental, turf, fruit and vegetable gardening objectives. Please feel free to contact him with any questions you may have.
http://washington.ifas.ufl.edu/lng/about/

Matthew Orwat

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/10/21/persimmon-a-dooryard-fruit/

Two Weeks Left to Register for the Fruit & Vegetable Conference – October 11

Two Weeks Left to Register for the Fruit & Vegetable Conference – October 11

PFVC1

The Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference is just around the corner. 

The conference will provide a great opportunity for networking and sharing practical farming knowledge that can help farmers from across the region. This event promises lots of learning opportunities for everyone, from prospective to experienced farmers, and from rural to urban settings.

Come network and learn with the UF/IFAS Extension and Research personnel, fellow farmers, and industry representatives. Register today to reserve your place at this exciting event.

Date: October 11th            Time: 7:30 am – 5:00 pm

Location: Jackson County Agricultural Complex, 2741 Penn Ave. Marianna, FL 32448

Activities:

Tradeshow

Educational Session Tracts:

  • Diversified Crops – The Diversified Crops sessions will feature presentations on Integrated Pest Management, fertilizer recommendations and application in vegetable crops, and marketing and cost assistance programs.
  • Protected Agriculture – The Protected Agriculture sessions will feature presentations on protected agriculture production and insect pest control from the perspective of researchers, extension agents, and farmers.
  • Tree Fruit & Berries – The Tree Fruit and Berries sessions will feature presentations on blueberry production, grape production, and satsuma production.

The lunch will feature fresh and delicious food from local farms.

KeynoteSpeaker: Richard Wiswall

Book photo 2Richard Wiswall and his wife Sally Colman own and operate Cate Farm in Vermont. Richard , the author of The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook: A Complete Guide to Managing Finances, Crops, and Staff – and Making a Profit, likes to share his knowledge with other farmers, and often gives talks and workshops on the often neglected business side of farming.

 

Educational tours and workshops

  • Tour 1: Protected Agriculture Tour – Fox Family Farm, Cottondale, FL

  • Tour 2: Satsuma Tour – Cherokee Satsumas, Marianna, FL

  • Workshop 1: Vegetable Grafting 101

  • Workshop 2: Determine Your Costs of Production – Farm Budgets Made Simple

 

Register today with the following link:

Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference Registration

 

PG

Author: Matt Lollar – mlollar@ufl.edu

Matt Lollar is the Jackson County Horticulture Agent. He has 5 years of experience with University of Florida/IFAS Extension and he began his career in Sanford, FL as the Seminole County Horticulture Agent. Matt is originally from Belle Fontaine, AL. He earned his MS and BS degrees in Horticulture Production from Auburn University.

Matt Lollar

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/09/24/two-weeks-left-to-register-for-the-fruit-vegetable-conference-october-11/

The Forgotten Fruit and the Forgotten Coast

The Forgotten Fruit and the Forgotten Coast

It’s safe to say that almost everyone equates citrus with the state of Florida. It just goes hand in hand. Most people first think of citrus as being oranges and grapefruit. Even by traveling south on I-75 or I-95, our welcome centers will gladly supply you with a complimentary cup of the juice of your choice, orange or grapefruit. However, the kumquat is a fruit that rarely comes to mind. The Panhandle is prime habitat for this forgotten fruit.

The kumquat is a native of southeast China, but it has found a home on the Gulf coast. It’s a cold hardy citrus, much like the Panhandle favorite satsuma orange. Due to the plants ability to be semi-dormant in the region, the kumquat has been known to withstand temperatures in the low teens. The kumquat fruit is an oddity in the citrus world. The peeling is sweet, the pulp is tart and it’s all edible, except for the seeds of course. The fruit reaches maturity around October, and will remain viable on the tree until March.

kumquats680

Figure 1: Kumquat fruit: Nagami variety.

Credit: UF/IFAS.

There are two varieties grown in Florida. The Nagami (Fortunella margarita) is by far the most popular in the state. This variety has oval shaped fruit and 2-5 seeds. The Meiwa (Fortunella crassifolia) has a more rounded shaped fruit with almost no seeds. This variety’s fruit is more sweet and juicy compared to the Nagami.

Kumquat is one of the easiest fruits to grow in the Panhandle. Most gardeners enjoy the ease of management as the kumquat tree is relatively small in size, and requires much less care compared to other citrus. Another advantage to kumquats is the ability to be grown in containers. Also, the dark green leaves and orange colored fruit is quite appealing on your back deck or patio.

When planting a kumquat, make sure the location has plenty of sunshine. Always apply mulch, but be sure to keep the mulch at least a foot from the trunk to combat any potential of disease. As for container growing, be sure to purchase a large container with adequate drainage holes. Place a screen in the bottom of the container, rather than rocks. This will ensure no soil is lost during drainage events. Newly planted kumquats will need significant water on a regular basis to become established, especially if planted in a container. Once established, watering can be limited.

Kumquats will need a fertilizer regimen too. A citrus formulated fertilizer works great. Although not required, pruning should be done after April or later in the summer before new flowers appear. A major plus, kumquat trees generally bear fruit just after a couple of years.

Kumquats are a delight to grow in the Panhandle and a fantastic evergreen for your landscape, back deck or patio.

Supporting information for this article can be found in the UF/IFAS EDIS publication, “Fortunella spp., Kumquat” by Michael G. Andreu, Melissa H. Friedman, and Robert J. Northrop & “Get Acquainted with Kumquat” by BJ Jarvis, CED & Horticultural Agent, UF/IFAS Pasco County Extension:

 

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Author: Ray Bodrey – rbodrey@ufl.edu

Gulf County Extension Director, Agent II Agriculture, Natural Resource & Community Development

Ray Bodrey

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/07/06/the-forgotten-fruit-and-the-forgotten-coast/

Wiswall to be Keynote Speaker at the Panhandle Fruit and Vegetable Conference

Wiswall to be Keynote Speaker at the Panhandle Fruit and Vegetable Conference

Richard Wiswall

Richard Wiswall

Author: Jose Perez, UF/IFAS Small Farms Extension Coordinator

Richard Wiswall has been a farmer for 35 years. He runs Cate Farm, a certified organic farm in Vermont  and is author of “The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook.”  Richard’s experience as a farmer is sure to resonate with all farmers who strive to manage their farm profitably. We are pleased to announce that Richard will be the keynote speaker at the Panhandle Fruit and Vegetable Conference in Marianna, Florida, on October 11, 2016.

Richard’s 148-acre farm includes 25 different types of crops on 22 acres of cultivated land, and seven 96-ft long greenhouses. When he started he owned only 5% of the land he farmed, and he decided to take a dive into the reality of his business. He had to overcome the fear that many small, diversified farmers have: Is my farm profitable or am I losing money here? First, he realized he needed to collect some data from his operation to understand how profitable it was. Later, during the off-season, he sat down and looked at the numbers for three days. The hard work paid off! He realized that there were some crops that were very profitable, while he was losing money on others. After this realization, he decided to reduce the number of crops grown from 42 to 25 the following year. He focused only on the most profitable crops, and he finally saw how his farm could be profitable and viable in the long term. This gave him the confidence to go to a bank and ask for a loan to buy the land he farmed. He has been fine-tuning his production strategy every year, and has observed consistent improvements.

Richard in one of his greenhouses

Richard in one of his greenhouses

In this process, Richard found that crops with high demand such as spinach, broccoli and sweet corn were not profitable at his farm. On the other hand, there were “sleeper crops,” such as kale, that were earning more money per acre than standard vegetable crops. Richard said this was the reality for his farm, but it could be different for other farms.  “For those crops that are not profitable you can either drop them or you can still grow them even when you are losing money, as long as you are aware of it. You can look at this as a promotional expense,” he said.

Richard realizes that looking at the business side of things is hard for many farmers who chose this profession to be outside working with nature. He decided to write a book to share his experiences with other farmers, and that’s how “The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook” got published. Richard regularly speaks on this topic at conferences and events across the country. “It’s about shining a light on their farm business, about understanding where the money is coming and going,” he said. “After that it is up to them to make decisions. It’s better to do it with your eyes open than with your head stuck in the sand.”

Tomatoes growing in a Cate Farms greenhouse

Tomatoes growing in a Cate Farms greenhouse

Richard has known many farmers who work 80 hours a week, pay their workers little, and never get ahead. “They will never say this is what I want to do the rest of my life. They leave farming all together, they burn out.” To be truly sustainable you have to have a manageable, balanced life. Ultimately a farmer’s only job is to make sure that the farm survives; if you can’t make payroll then it’s over.” he said.

Applying Richard’s methods to analyze your farm requires some dedication.  As a first step, he recommends analyzing your five top crops. “I don’t like record-keeping,” Richard says, “I do it because it works. The only thing you have to do is to calculate rate checks. How much time it takes to plant a bed, weeding, and the like, you don’t have to track every time.”  Richard recommends looking into Phone apps such as BeetClock http://www.beetclock.com/  to use your smartphone to facilitate record-keeping.

Besides the keynote speech, Richards will also lead a 2-hour workshop in the afternoon of the conference. In this workshop titled “Determine Your Costs of Production: Farm Budgets Made Simple,” he will work on demystifying this process for you. “You will learn to do this if you want to. We’ll spend two hours simplifying this process and the hope is that farmers will embrace and practice this in their operations,” he said.

To learn more about Richard Wiswall and Cate Farm visit www.richardwiswall.com and www.catefarm.com.

 


Panhandle Fruit & Veggy ConfThe Panhandle Fruit and Vegetable Conference will provide a great networking space and share practical farming knowledge that can help farmers across the region. The event will take place on October 11 at the Jackson County Agricultural Conference Center in Marianna, Florida.

For more information and registration visit: https://pfvc.eventbrite.com

Early bird registration is $ 40 before September 6. Your registration includes lunch, refreshments, educational materials and transportation to farm tour locations. We look forward to seeing you there!

 

PG

Author: Blake Thaxton – bthaxton@ufl.edu

Santa Rosa County Extension Agent I, Commercial Horticulture

Blake Thaxton

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/07/02/wiswall-to-be-keynote-speaker-at-the-panhandle-fruit-and-vegetable-conference/

Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference October 11

Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference October 11

PFVC1

Mark your calendars, put in your vacation request, or whatever you need to do to prepare to take part in the Panhandle Fruit & Vegetable Conference.  The conference will provide a great opportunity for networking and the sharing of practical farming knowledge that can help farmers across the region. This event promises lots of learning opportunities for everyone, from the prospective of beginner farmers to those most experienced, and from rural to urban settings.

Come, network, and learn with the UF/IFAS Extension and Research personnel, fellow farmers, and industry representatives. Register today to reserve your place at this exciting event.

Date: October 11th            Time: 7:30am – 5pm

Location: Jackson County Agricultural Complex, 2741 Penn Ave. Marianna, FL 32448

Activities:

Tradeshow

Educational Session Tracts:

  • Diversified Crops
  • Protected Agriculture
  • Tree Fruit & Berries

Catered lunch featuring fresh and delicious food from local farms

KeynoteSpeaker: Richard Wiswall

Book photo 2Richard Wiswall and his wife Sally Colman own and operate Cate Farm in Vermont. Richard , the author of The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook: A Complete Guide to Managing Finances, Crops, and Staff – and Making a Profit, likes to share his knowledge with other farmers, and often gives talks and workshops on the often neglected business side of farming.

 

Educational tours and workshops

  • Tour 1: Protected Agriculture Tour
  • Tour 2: Satsuma Tour
  • Workshop 1: Vegetable Grafting 101
  • Workshop 2: Determine Your Costs of Production: Farm Budgets Made Simple

Printer friendly flyer

Important!

For more information or to Register: http://pfvc.eventbrite.com

 

 

PG

Author: Blake Thaxton – bthaxton@ufl.edu

Santa Rosa County Extension Agent I, Commercial Horticulture

Blake Thaxton

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/05/14/panhandle-fruit-vegetable-conference-october-11/

Cold Weather is a Good Thing for Fruit Trees

Cold Weather is a Good Thing for Fruit Trees

We may be suffering from the recent low temperatures, but temperate fruit trees such as peaches and apples require a period of cold weather in order to become cold hardy and produce a good crop.

What is Cold Hardiness?

Cold hardiness is the ability of a plant to survive low temperatures.  However, every cold event is fairly unique with variables such as when the low temperatures occur (early vs. late winter), how quickly the temperature drops, the temperatures in the days leading up to the event, and the length of time the low temperatures are sustained.

Cold Acclimation

Cold acclimation is the development of freezing tolerance in plants.  Three fall environmental factors contribute to cold acclimation in fruit trees.  Plant will develop 10 to 15 degrees of cold tolerance when the leaves sense shorter day lengths.  Metabolic activity is increased when days are short and temperatures are between 60°F days and 40°F nights.  The second factor occurs when lows reach the 20s, which can make trees up to 10 degrees hardier.  The final factor occurs when temperatures dip to near zero, which fortunately for us does not occur very often.

Trees remain hardy during the winter as long as temperatures remain fairly stable.  However, de-acclimation occurs in reaction to warm temperatures.  This explains the winter flowering which occurred this past December.  A cold snap may not injure trees unless it immediately follows a period of mild temperatures.

Florida Average Chill Hours Map

Florida Average Chill Hours Map – UF/IFAS Extension

Chilling Requirement

The cold weather and gradual cold acclimation are necessary to a tree’s accumulation of chill hours which is necessary for steady fruit yields.  Chill hours are the accumulation of hours when temperatures are between 32°F and 45°F.  The yearly average chill hour accumulation in Northwest Florida is between 660 and 700 hours.  The apple varieties recommended for our area (‘Anna’, ‘Dorsett Golden’, and ‘TropicSweet’) have a chilling requirement of 250 to 300 hours.  Some of the peach varieties recommended for our area (‘Flordacreast’, ‘Flordaking’, and ‘Gulfsnow’) have a chilling requirement of 350 to 400 hours.  Please note the risk of planting these varieties because their chilling requirements are lower than our average chill hour accumulation.  The varieties listed are for example, but other available varieties are suitable for our area.

Whether you like winter weather or not, just remember the satisfaction of eating fresh fruit in the summer.  To track this year’s chill hours from the warmth of your home, please visit the AgroClimate tool at http://agroclimate.org/tools/Chill-Hours-Calculator/.

 

PG

Author: Matt Lollar – mlollar@ufl.edu

Matt Lollar is the Jackson County Horticulture Agent. He has 5 years of experience with University of Florida/IFAS Extension and he began his career in Sanford, FL as the Seminole County Horticulture Agent. Matt is originally from Belle Fontaine, AL. He earned his MS and BS degrees in Horticulture Production from Auburn University.

Matt Lollar

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/01/27/cold-weather-is-a-good-thing-for-fruit-trees/

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