According to statistics from the Florida Farm Bureau, St. Johns County ranks No. 1 in the state for cabbage production. The delineation makes this northeastern nook of the Sunshine Sate the perfect locale to host a cabbage/cole crops field day.
Held at the UF/IFAS Cowpen Branch demonstration plot in Hastings, more than 60 attendees — comprised primarily of growers, researchers, and industry allied members — gathered to learn the latest about not only the area’s cole crop king, but also other related work being done at the UF/IFAS location.
Gary K. England, Director of the UF/IFAS Agricultural Extension Center in Hastings, welcomed the crowd and invited attendees to tour the plantings to see for themselves the progress being made to improve production and crop protection methods.
From a firsthand perspective, it was interesting to see how the crops — some that took a beating from Hurricane Matthew back in October — held up. Some of what was seen had been subject to 10 inches of rain and wicked wind damage from the major storm. Other trials were planted since the storm and were still a little behind schedule.
In addition to the field tour, the day’s agenda featured a short course that covered multiple topics of interest including: pest identification and management; the best time to plant cabbage and why; plasticulture economics; and new broccoli varieties bred for heat tolerance.
Concluding the program was Candice Anderson of Bejo Seeds. She spoke about alternative crops for the Tri-County Agricultural Area. Among her list were selections fueled by current consumer food trends — Brussels sprouts, broccoli rabe, beets, carrots, and Asian veggies — a staple around St. Johns County.
For more of what was seen and heard during the gathering, view the photo gallery above for a virtual tour.