Florida is among the only places in the USA where we can grow subtropical and tropical fruit crops. This is because Florida has the necessary climatic and soil conditions that allow farmers to grow these types of crops, as well as an established market.
Types of subtropical/tropical fruit crops we can grow in Florida
There are multiple subtropical/tropical Fruit Crops we can grow in Florida. Some of these include avocados, bananas, guava, longan, lychees, mamey sapote, mangos, papayas, pineapples, start fruits, sweetsop, soursop, atemoya, tamarind, and many others. Among these, mangos and avocados are among the most popular among farmers in Florida for their climate adaptability and their positive market reception. If you want to learn more about subtropical/tropical fruit production in Florida click here.
Florida’s climate for subtropical/tropical fruit crops
The climate is a key factor for any crop production. In Florida, subtropical/tropical fruit production concentrates on the southern parts of the state, although there are some farmers that grow adapted varieties in more central locations. Most subtropical/tropical fruits tend to be affected by temperatures below 50℉. This is why fruit crop farmers are mostly in the southern part of the state, where low temperatures and frost damage are not as prevalent as in other more northern parts of the state. The hardiness zone map can help growers and gardeners to understand what plants are more susceptible to plant according to the location of the state. Florida has 4 hardiness zones which include 8, 9, 10, and 11. To access the Florida hardiness zone map click here.
Freezing temperatures are the biggest concern for subtropical/tropical fruit crop farmers. Farmers need to have a management program to minimize frost damage to their fruit crops. This will depend on the specific crop species and varieties. For more information about fruit crop species and varieties visit the website of the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center here: https://trec.ifas.ufl.edu/. Farmers can also adopt good management practices for frost mitigation such as implementing an overhead irrigation system. For information about irrigation systems for subtropical/tropical fruit crops click here: IRRIGATION SYSTEM DESCRIPTIONS FOR TROPICAL AND SUBTROPICAL FRUIT CROPS IN FLORIDA.
Soil considerations for subtropical/tropical fruit crops
Before selecting a specific crop, evaluate your soil components and characteristics. Soil elevation, pH, depth, and well-drained soils are important characteristics to take into consideration before selecting a fruit crop. Make sure that the soil characteristics match not only the species requirements but also the specific variety you wish to grow on your farm. For example, the Mexican avocado varieties are cold-resistant varieties suitable for Central Florida but also require well-drained soil. For more information about how soil can affect crops click here.
Southwest Florida Small Farmers Network (SWFSFN)
The Southwest Florida Small Farmers Network (SWFSFN) is a group composed of UF/IFAS agents from the Southwest Region that connects growers to a resource network focused on diversified and sustainable farming systems. We help established farmers and new or beginner farmers from the counties of Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pasco, Polk, Pinellas, and Sarasota with any production, marketing, and management needs they may have with their agricultural commodities and help them solve problems to improve any aspects of their farms and product quality. For more information about the SWFSFN click here.
2023 Summer Southwest Florida Small Farmer Network (SWFSFN) Meeting
On Wednesday, July 19 from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm, the SWFSN will be hosting a meeting at FruitScapes Farm (12870 Stringfellow Rd Bokeelia, FL 33922) located on Pine Island in Lee County. This meeting will focus on tropical fruit production and the impacts Hurricane Ian had on the agricultural communities in Pine Island. We will be connecting with farmers and food entrepreneurs in the region, and we’ll take a tour of FruitScapes in Bokeelia to know more about the topics mentioned above and more. Come and join us if you want to learn more about tropical fruits and want to connect to other farmers in the Southwest Region of Florida. For registration access the following link: https://2023summerSWFLSFN.eventbrite.com
For more information about subtropical/tropical fruit crops access the following “Ask-IFAS” publications:
For information about Florida Small Farms click here.
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