Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Florida Field Checks (No Wonder So Many People Come Here in the Winter)

So after a couple of days at home in Snowland after my trip to California, it was time to make some field checks in Florida last week.  I mean, that's where stuff is growing this time of year.  The only thing growing in Michigan is frustration with the non-ending winter.  Anyway, there is a lot of Liquid activity going on in Florida.  One of the stops was to see our fertilizer test on sugarcane.  Below we see Field Agronomist Mike and SAM Paulino trying to keep up with me as I excitedly walk the line looking at the field-sized plots.  It was in the low 80's so I was extra happy to be there.  
Below is a field shot taken last November 13.  I posted this in the blog back then which was on my last visit.  This sugarcane was planted in late September.
And here is the same place now, or on Feb 26 when I was there.  It's over my head, the size of the cane that is.  It is time for the next application which will likely be the last time the high clearance ground rig with drop nozzles will be able to make it through.  But it may be possible in the next one in May, but we will have to see.  Otherwise it will be aerially applied.   
Everyone says to watch out for alligators that will often come out to sun themselves in the numerous drainage ditches through the fields.  Well I have never seen one yet in my two visits here.  That would be a great addition to the blog.  Below Paulino is on gator watch.  I asked him to dangle his feet in the water to try and attract one.  But he said "no".  Well actually it was a little more colorful than that.  I guess he is not an animal enthusiast like I am.
Below is the smoke from a sugarcane field being burned before harvest.  Fields are burned to remove the leaves which makes the cane harvest easier.  They burn really fast and it does not harm the sugarcane.  They harvest from late fall through as late as April.  I don't really understand the whole sugarcane growth procedure.  In Louisiana where I have reported on our sugarcane research before, the sugarcane emerges in late March, then fertilizer is applied one time, and it is harvested in November.  Easy.  But in Florida, it is planted in early fall, grows all winter, gets fertilized several times over the next year, and then is harvested from late fall to the next spring.  Our plots here probably won't be harvested until a year from now.  That will be around a year and a half since planting. But maybe it will be earlier.  It all has to do with scheduling with the mill.  But that will give me extra time to visit it.  
We also visited a crop that has more immediate personal gratification: Strawberries!  Now who doesn't like a fresh picked strawberry?  If you raised your hand, then seek help immediately.  Actually there are solid Liquid recipes established for growing strawberries in Florida where they are being used extensively.
Below we are in a field that was picked today. They are picked every couple of days as the berries keep coming on. Here they have 4 rows per bed compared to the usual 2 rows per bed.  They think it has higher production.  It is late afternoon and the pickers have quit for the day, but you can see the picking equipment in the background.  They are picked, and put into the clear "clamshell" containers that are in the stores, and shipped all over the country.  Most likely the strawberries you see in the store now are from this area of Florida.  There are probably several weeks of picking left.  The liquid fertilizer is run through the drip lines under the plastic over the beds.  Fertilizer is run in small doses usually every day along with the irrigation water.  We see Paulino, Mike and Area sales manager Jim making inspections.  Jim is busy with fertilizer business on the phone.
Paulino is still enjoying the strawberries (all in the name of science), but it looks like Mike has exceeded his fill capacity.
Here is how you see them in the store.  Enjoy the Liquid fed goodness.
We also visited a field test at another location.  The pickers were in action here.  They pick thousands of flats every day.  Not sure how big a flat is, but thousands of them must be a lot.
We finished my Florida fertilizer mission with a visit to a Dole blueberry field.  Like the strawberries, Liquid has been feeding here for several years. Jim is still busy with fertilizer business on the phone.
Look at all of the future blueberries on this branch.  They are really loaded up and will be picked in a few weeks.  After blueness sets in that is.  Make room in the fridge for some delicious blueberries, coming soon! 
Well the next day it was back to Michigan.  Snow or not, it's home.
But it was sure nice being warm for a few days.  Look at my ever-so-accurate car thermometer as I left for AgroLiquid HQ yesterday morning.  That would be 103 degrees colder than where I was a few days before.
Cold or not, it's home.