New Apps for your “Smart”phone

My Florida Farm Weather

FL farmweatherRecently, there were two new apps released that will be helpful to Florida growers of both fruit and vegetables.  Growers can get real-time local weather data from the “My Florida Farm Weather” Program.  The website address is: http://fawn.ifas.ufl.edu/mffw/ – and there is an app for the Android platform at this point, with an iPhone app coming soon (the release of iOS 7 most likely delayed its release).

Key information on rainfall, temperature, humidity, dew point, wind speed and wind direction can be found from both FAWN and grower sites.  Historical data will be added to the site – which will be a useful tool for site selection and variety selection.

Web Soil Survey 3.0

The California Soil Resource Lab has released an iPhone and Android app to navigate the USDA-NRCS web soil survey maps.  This is a handy tool for those evaluating sites and determining irrigation systems and rates for a new planting.  There are also links on the website for linking to Google Earth images and Google Maps images showing soil information.  A neat tool for on-the-go soil information!

For the iPhone App: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/soilweb-for-the-iphone/id354911787?mt=8
For the Android App: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=casoilresource.apps.soilweb&feature=search_result

Here is an image of our soil types on campus:

soilweb image

Crop Insurance Availability for 2014

I hope that everyone is having a good fall and it’s been a great start to the school year for all of us who have kids.  (I didn’t remember that school pictures were so expensive – even the cheapest “package”!)

I am happy to report that one of my short-term goals when I came to this job is coming into view- with the USDA-RMA offering 2014 written agreements for crop insurance to growers of Florida peaches (at least in southern counties).  Previously the only counties covered in the USDA-RMA program were northern Florida counties in Madison, Jefferson, and Hamilton counties.

Dr. Jeanne Lindsey, based in the USDA-RMA office in Valdosta, GA has said that written agreements are an important first step for county expansion of a crop program into a non-traditional production area.

The deadline for requesting a written agreement is November 20, 2013, but the agency may need some time to process the request, so it is suggested to have information into them by October 31, 2013.  All written agreements will be evaluated based on procedures in their Written Agreement Handbook.

Selling Produce to Local Schools

Have you ever wanted to sell produce to your local school system so that kids can enjoy our bounty of Florida fruit and veggies during the winter and spring months?

school lunchThen this seminar, sponsored by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) is for you!  They are conducting a “webinar” (a seminar over the web) that will give growers all the information needed about the school food service for the state of Florida.  They will cover several goals, including a description of program, the goals of each school food service department within each district, how they obtain the produce, and what factors are important to them when they purchase produce.  Finally, each meal must be within a certain price range, considering school meals range between $3.00 – 4.00 for lunch per child.

With our statewide average of 10-15 acres per operation, there are several peach orchards that could divert and diversify their marketing strategy to include farm to school avenues.  If you have any questions about the webinar or about the program, contact the FDACS Division of Food, Nutrition and Wellness at 1-800-504-6609.

Program Director:
Christie Meresse
Program Director I – Procurement Compliance Division of Food, Nutrition and Wellness Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
(850) 617-7427
Christine.Meresse@FreshFromFlorida.com