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Rains boost Florida crop prospects

Rainfall during late summer boosted crop growth and development in the north Florida Panhandle but delayed some hay baling and lowered the quality of some hay, according to the state's agricultural statistics service.

Extreme heat in July hindered some peanut blooming and affected the growth of cotton and other crops. Silage harvesting neared an end in some localities during early July. Tobacco harvesting progressed rapidly during July with collection centers at Madison and Live Oak opening late in the month.

Cotton condition was rated mostly good to excellent by early August with a few growers reporting a significant amount of squares falling off plants, probably due to heavy rainfall. Frequent showers shortened the spraying interval for some peanuts while growers in some areas irrigated fields to insure proper soil moisture.

In the first yield forecast for 2002, Florida cotton growers expect to average 706 pounds per acre from 119,000 acres to be picked. This compares to 612 pounds per acre averaged from 124,000 acres harvested last year. Production is expected to total 175,000 bales. Last year's production was 158,000 bales.

Peanut producers indicate that 92,000 acres will be dug in 2002, up 10,000 acres from last year. Yield is expected to average 2,600 pounds per acre, down 450 pounds from the 3,050 pounds per acre last year. Production, at 239,200,000 pounds, is down from the 250,100,000 pounds produced last year. Growers report the crop is in mostly good to excellent condition with 95 percent of the crop pegged by the first week of August.

Tobacco producers expect to pull 13,440,000 pounds, up 1,740,000 pounds from the 11,700,000 pound harvested last year. Acreage is set at 4,800 acres, up 300 acres from the 4,500 acres harvested in 2001. Yield is expected to average 2,800 pounds per acre, up 200 pounds from the 2,600 pounds per acre for the 2001 crop. Florida producers escaped damage from diseases that plagued tobacco in other states.

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