Group Title: Bulletin - University of Florida. Florida Cooperative Extension Service ; 29
Title: Commercial truck crops of Florida
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00024091/00001
 Material Information
Title: Commercial truck crops of Florida
Series Title: Bulletin
Physical Description: 36 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Spencer, A. P ( Arthur Perceval )
Berry, C. M
Publisher: University of Florida, Division of Agricultural Extension
Place of Publication: <Gainesville Fla.>
Publication Date: 1921
 Subjects
Subject: Truck farming -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Vegetables -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by A.P. Spencer and C.M. Berry.
General Note: "June, 1921".
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Bibliographic ID: UF00024091
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002570078
oclc - 47285667
notis - AMT6384
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not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
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site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.






Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
of Florida







Bulletin 29


COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN
AGRICULTURE AND HOME ECONOMICS
(Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914)
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA DIVISION OF AGRICULTURAL
EXTENSION AND UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT
OF AGRICULTURE COOPERATING
WILMON NEWELL, Director


COMMERCIAL TRUCK CROPS
OF FLORIDA
BY A. P. SPENCER AND C. M. BERRY

INTRODUCTION
Vegetable growing for market is an important phase of
Florida horticulture. Florida produces at different seasons of


Fig. 1.-Snap beans
the year a great quantity of vegetables for shipment and home
consumption. The height of the shipping season is between
November 15 and July 1.


June, 1921







Florida Cooperative Extension


Most Florida vegetables are shipped in car-lots to northern
markets and consumed fresh. Few cars are placed in cold
storage, either in Florida or at destination. Most of these
vegetables are sent to markets formerly supplied from northern
greenhouses, the field trucker having, therefore, to compete with
greenhouse producers.
The greater part of Florida's vegetable crop is grown dur-
ing the cooler season when there are fewest diseases and insect
pests. However, the trucker has to combat insect pests and
diseases at all seasons on practically every crop he grows.

SEEDBEDS

Most Florida vegetable crops are started in seedbeds. That
is, the seeds are sown in seedbeds and the plants, when large
enough, are transplanted to the field. This necessitates the
planning and arrangement of properly constructed beds suffi-
ciently in advance of the transplanting season to insure a liberal
supply of thrifty, stocky plants.
Seedbeds are made by selecting a favorable location in the
field, close to a water supply, on well-drained, comparatively
rich soil, or on such soil as can be made rich by fertilization and
as free as possible from root-knot and diseases.
For celery, lettuce, romaine, cabbage, escarole, endive,
cauliflower and other summer or early fall plantings, lay out
the beds three and a half feet wide. Well-rotted stable manure
or well-decayed compost should be worked thoroly into the soil.
The surface" should then receive an application of hardwood
ashes at the rate of one ton to the acre, and a week later an
application of the same amount of commercial fertilizer, analyz-
ing 5 percent ammonia, 5 percent phosphoric acid and 5 percent
potash. Much of the nitrogen should come from an organic
source. The fertilizer should be thoroly incorporated with the
soil, the bed made smooth and the seeds sown. It is best to
allow a few days to elapse between applying the fertilizer and
sowing the seeds, in the meantime keeping the beds moist.
These seedbeds should be protected with an A-shaped cloth
cover two yards wide, made of four-ounce cotton sheeting, over
a frame of lath and wire to provide shade during hot weather
and to protect the plants against beating rains, wind and possi-
bly early frosts.







Commercial Truck Crops of Florida


For starting a winter seedbed of eggplants, peppers, toma-
toes and other plants of like nature for early spring crops the
bed should be from four and a half to five feet wide. It should
be surrounded by a wooden
wall two feet high on the
north side (back) and ten





Fig. 2.-Winter and early spring seedbed a protection against
cold, are essential.
The seeds should be sown fairly thick in rows from four
to six inches apart. When sown broadcast, the beds are diffi-
cult to cultivate, fertilize and weed. Cover the seeds lightly,
not more than half an inch deep. If the seeds are very small,
as celery and lettuce, sow on the surface, give little covering, if
any; then place burlap over the ground and keep it wet until
the seeds begin to sprout and take root, when it should be
removed.


Fig. 3.-Shading seedbeds with canvas







Florida Cooperative Extension


When the seeds are sprouted the bed should be watered and
kept so until the plants are well-established.

BEANS
Bush or snap beans are grown in every section of Florida
and are among the most important of truck crops on the penin-
sular part of the state. They can be grown under a variety of
conditions and on different kinds of soil. They require less
fertilizer than most vegetables and are easy to ship.
Snap beans are killed by freezing temperature. Therefore,
the fall crop must be matured before danger of frost and the
spring crop cannot be planted until danger of frost is past.
Beans are raised as early fall and late spring crops. The
largest acreage of fall beans is in the southern part of Alachua
and thruout Marion and Sumter Counties. In these sections
the growers plan to have most of their crop out of the way by
November 20. These sections produce large quantities of beans
during spring. They are planted in March and harvested during
April, May and June.
On the islands and protected areas of the coasts beans are
quite an important winter crop. The soil in these sections is
principally sandy hammock, and is near sea level. These pro-
tected areas are limited in extent; therefore, the quantity pro-
duced is much less than in the interior of the state.
Beans make good crops on the better grades of hammock
and pine lands. They also grow well on muck, if it has been
planted to some other crop for two or three years previously.
They will not do well on sour or poorly drained land, and should
never be planted as a first crop, particularly on flatwoods pine
land known to be sour. They respond readily to good cultiva-
tion and require comparatively warm weather to make them
grow fast.
FERTILIZATION
Beans should have from 600 to 800 pounds fertilizer to
the acre. As the crop is a comparatively short seasoned one,
this fertilizer may be applied before the seeds are planted. A
fertilizer, analyzing 5 percent ammonia, 4 percent phosphoric
acid and 4 or 5 percent potash, should be used. The ammonia
element is the most important. Soils deficient in humus will
require more fertilizer than where there is a better supply of
humus. From five to ten loads stable manure to the acre, ap-








Commercial Truck Crops of Florida


plied before the crop is planted, is most beneficial in preparing
the land for a bean crop.
VARIETIES
Two varieties of bush beans are generally grown. These
are the Green and White Wax. The Wax is grown less exten-
sively than the Green, and should not be planted except on the
better grades of hammock land. The best strains of the Green
are the Giant Stringless, Green Pod, Early Speckled Valentine
and Early Refugee. Of the Wax the New Davis White Wax
and the Wardell Kidney Wax are the best.
PLANTING
It will require about three pecks of seed to the acre, with
rows three feet apart and hills three to four inches apart. In
a few days the beans will show above the ground, and will grow
off rapidly, if weather conditions are favorable. No thinning
will be necessary, and just enough cultivation to maintain good
moisture and keep the weeds in check is sufficient. In growing
beans it is important not to cultivate while the plants are wet
or immediately after a rain, as this will have a tendency to
spread any fungous diseases that may be present in the field.

HARVESTING
Beans are usually picked when the pods are mature in size.
However, they must be gathered before showing ripeness. Oth-
erwise by the time they reach market they will appear wilted.
Several pickings will be necessary under average conditions.
The beans are picked into bushel hampers in the field and do
not require further sorting. On good land 100 to 200 hampers
may be produced to the acre.

LIMA BEANS
Lima or butter beans, while raised for shipping, are a less
important crop than the bush bean. This variety can be grown
thruout the hot season and is one of the most useful summer
vegetables in Florida. The crop is handled in about the same
way as a crop of bush beans. With the runner varieties the
rows must be wider and should have a trellis or pole on which
to climb. Some growers plant them in corn fields where the
vines are allowed to run up corn stalks.
These beans are more sensitive to cold than are bush beans








Florida Cooperative Extension


but will make better growth during warm weather, particularly
if a rainy season, as they are less subject to fungous diseases.
The Lima bush bean is an excellent summer vegetable,
making about the same size bush as the ordinary bush bean and
growing under similar conditions. They require, however, a
longer period in which to mature.

VARIETIES
For shipment to northern markets Fordhook Potato Lima
bean is a good variety. For home use either the White or
Mottled Florida butter bean will prove satisfactory.

BEETS

Beets are grown thruout Florida both for home use and
as a shipping crop. The best soil for beets is a dark, sandy
loam, well-drained and supplied with organic matter.

CULTURAL METHODS
There are two methods used in producing the beet crop in
Florida. In the first the field is reduced to a fine seedbed, the
beet seeds are sown thick with a seed drill in rows from 12 to
14 inches apart and finally thinned by hand to a stand of plants
averaging four inches apart in the rows. A few radishes or
other quickly germinating seeds should be mixed with the beet
seeds. This permits wheel-hoe or hand-hoe cultivation, some-
times necessary for weeds before the beet seeds are up. After
the beet seeds are up and the rows well defined the few radishes
may be removed.
The second and better method (in case expert setters are
obtainable) is to sow the seeds in seedbeds and set the plants
in the field when about four inches high. The field should be
freshly prepared, free from grass and weeds. Cultivate the
field several times before setting the young plants in order to
allow the weed seeds to germinate, thus making easier subse-
quent cultivations.
The plants should be set in rows from 12 to 14 inches apart
and from four to five inches apart in the rows. A more uni-
form and satisfactory yield of marketable beets can be pro-
duced by this method than by seeds sown in the field. It will
require approximately 100,000 plants to set an acre.







Commercial Truck Crops of Florida


FERTILIZATION
Beets require liberal fertilization to get maximum yields
and profits. One and a half tons to the acre of commercial
fertilizer, analyzing 6 percent ammonia, 6 percent phosphoric
acid and 5 percent potash, given in three applications during
the growth of the plants, will be suitable for most Florida soils.
The first application should be ten days before setting the plants
in the field or sowing the seeds, as the case may be.
CULTIVATION
Beets should be cultivated frequently and thoroly and
weeded by hand until the plants cover and shade the middles,
thus preventing grass and weeds from growing.
HARVESTING
Beets should be pulled and carried to a packing house in
field crates or baskets and packed in the shade to avoid wilting.
The ten-inch celery crate, 10 x 20 x 22, is used almost exclu-
sively in shipping Florida beets. From 336 to 350 crates make
a carload. Beets are usually shipped under refrigeration.
VARIETIES
Eclipse, Detroit Dark Red, Crosby's Egyptian, and Ed-
mand's Early Turnip are some of the best varieties for Florida.

CABBAGE
Cabbage is one of the easiest truck crops to grow in
Florida. The soil must be fairly good, well-drained and suffi-
ciently retentive of moisture to carry the crop over a drought
period. Almost any good, farming soil in Florida will produce
satisfactory crops of cabbage, if sufficiently fertilized. The
cabbage plant is a gross feeder, one of the hardiest of Florida
vegetables, and sometimes will withstand a temperature of
160 F. after the plants are half grown. However, when the
plants are small, just transplanted from the seedbeds and are
exposed to a freezing temperature, they will likely be killed.
Cabbages in Florida are planted for the early winter and late
spring markets. Earlier cabbages are planted in the field in
September and October. The greater bulk of the crop is planted
in December and January.
Thin, sandy, loose soil is not recommended for this crop,
altho such lands can be made to produce satisfactory crops
by irrigation and liberal fertilization.







Florida Cooperative Extension


PLANTING AND CULTIVATING
The ground should be thoroly plowed, pulverized, harrowed
and made smooth. The rows are then marked off about 36
inches apart and the plants set therein, about 15 inches apart
between hills. The plants are taken from the seedbeds when
from four to six inches high, and usually planted by hand in
comparatively moist soil. If irrigation can be furnished, it
insures a more even stand and a heavier crop. However, under
average conditions, cabbages are grown successfully in Florida
without irrigation.
As soon as the plants are large enough they should be cul-
tivated between the rows. With the exception of hoeing around
the plants, all cultivation may be done with horse cultivators.
The soil should be worked shallowly and with light working
tools.
FERTILIZATION
Cabbages require from a half to a ton to the acre of a
balanced fertilizer, analyzing about 5 percent ammonia, 6 per-
cent phosphoric acid and 4 percent potash. On the lighter soils
half of this amount should be drilled into the rows before the
crop is planted and the remainder worked into the soil when
the crop is about half grown. Almost any kind of available
fertilizer is acceptable to cabbage, as it is a gross feeder, altho
the best results are usually obtained when the ammonia can
be secured from organic sources, such as cottonseed meal, castor
pomace or tankage. When stable manure is available an appli-
cation of five to ten tons of this to the acre, worked well into
the soil before the crop is planted, produces excellent results.
In such cases the amount of commercial fertilizer may be
reduced.
When the crop is about two-thirds grown, if it tends to
grow slowly, an additional application of 150 pounds sulphate
ammonia or nitrate of soda to the acre is advisable for steady
growth and to produce firm heads. This, however, must not
be overdone, as it is liable to result in loose-headed cabbages
and, therefore, an unmarketable product.
IRRIGATION
With cabbage irrigation can easily be overdone. It requires
a reasonable amount of moisture to keep up steady growth; but,
if cabbages are forced too much and given continual irrigation
and heavy fertilization, the heads are liable to burst, making the







Commercial Truck Crops of Florida


crop unmarketable. This bursting is caused by too rapid
growth; the heart of the cabbage grows faster than the outer
leaves, causing it to break open. When there is a tendency
toward bursting it is a good practice to run a furrow along each
side of each row and cut off some of the roots.
VARIETIES
The principal varieties grown for market are Charleston
Wakefield, Long Island Wakefield, and Premium Flat Dutch.
For home use the Jersey Wakefield is most desirable. Premium
Flat Dutch is usually planted in October and is ready to ship in
January, whereas Charleston Wakefield and Long Island Wake-
field are planted in December and January and shipped in the
spring.
















Fig. 4.-Cabbage crated for shipment
MARKETING
The chief limitations to cabbage growing in Florida are
the markets, as practically all shipments go to northern markets
where stored cabbage, grown at lower cost, is placed on the
market in competition with Florida cabbage.
The crop is packed in one and a half bushel hampers, in
the ten-inch celery crate and in the standard cabbage crate
(12 x 18 x 33 inches). They are shipped by carloads.

CAULIFLOWER
Cauliflower is secondary in importance to most commercial
truck crops. It is planted and handled under conditions simi-







Florida Cooperative Extension


lar to cabbage, but is more difficult to raise and place on the
market in the best condition. It grows best during the cooler
months and should be ready for market during January, Feb-
ruary and March. To mature it requires about four months
from the time the plants are set, so that the seeds must be sown
in the seedbed early in the fall.
Early Snowball is the leading variety in Florida; Erfurt
is second.
SOIL
The soil best suited to cauliflower is a sandy loam with a
fair amount of decayed vegetation. Wet land should be avoided,


Fig. 5.-Cauliflower

altho the crop needs a constant supply of moisture. Irrigation
is more necessary than with cabbage, altho good crops are
grown without irrigation. Surface or sub-irrigation is prefer-







Commercial Truck Crops of Florida


able to an overhead system, thereby avoiding a discoloration of
the heads when about' mature. The soil should be thoroly
plowed and harrowed, and all vegetation covered well.
PLANTING
When ready to plant the rows should be laid off 36 inches
wide and the plants sets 20 inches apart in the rows. The
plants are set in about the same manner as cabbage, but .with
a little more care, as they are less hardy. It will require about
9000 plants to set an acre.
Frequent cultivation should be continued until the crop is
harvested.
FERTILIZATION
Cauliflower requires liberal fertilization, from 1500 to 2000
pounds commercial fertilizer to the acre being needed on aver-
age soils. Half of this fertilizer should be worked into the rows
ten days before the plants are set, and the remainder applied
when the crop is about half grown. Almost any well-balancel
fertilizer, containing 5 percent ammonia, 6 percent phosphorib
acid and 4 to 6 percent potash, will answer. When the plants
are within three weeks of maturity an application of 150 pounds
nitrate of soda to the acre will give good results.
When mature the leaves should be tied or pinned over the
curd to blanch it and prevent sun-coloring.

DATE TO PLANT AND MARKET
In order to have them ready for market, cauliflower must
be set in the field between October 10 and January 10. They
may be marketed from January to April.
PACKING
The one and a half bushel hamper is generally used for
packing cauliflower and from 350 to 400 of these containers
make a carload. The vegetable should be shipped under
refrigeration.

CELERY
Celery in Florida is generally planted on level, well-irrigated
land. The soil should be sandy loam, fairly compact, with a
good supply of humus and thoroly drained. A low, sandy ham-
mock, or a high quality flatwoods soil produces good crops. .
The soil should be deeply plowed, thoroly harrowed and







Florida Cooperative Extension


treated with lime or ashes for acidity, if acid is present. Unless
it is rich in vegetable matter, it should receive a liberal appli-
cation of stable manure or have a heavy crop of vegetation
plowed under.
In planting the rows are laid off 30 inches apart and celery
plants set every three and a half inches in the row with a small
trowel and wet down with a sprinkling pot as fast as set. In
some cases the plants are set six inches apart in double rows,
but the single-row system is preferable.
Plants for transplanting should be about five inches high.
It will require approximately 60,000 plants to set an acre.















Fig. 6.-Papering celery

When the plants are set the ground must be made thoroly
moist, almost wet, until growth starts, after which the soil
needs just enough moisture to induce growth.
The varieties of celery grown in Florida are Golden Self
Blanching, for early crops, and Green Top and Easy Blanching,
for late crops.
FERTILIZATION
From two to four tons of commercial fertilizer (according
to the natural richness of the soil), analyzing 5 percent am-
monia, 5 percent phosphoric acid and 5 percent potash, are
required to grow an acre of celery in the principal celery dis-
tricts of Florida. The fertilizer should be applied in three or
four applications, the first of say 1000 pounds, mixed well into
the rows ten days before setting the plants. This usually
should be supplemented with several light applications of nitrate








Commercial Truck Crops of Florida


of soda, from 100 to 200 pounds to the acre each application,
while the crop is growing.


Fig. 7.-Removing paper from celery


BLANCHING AND SHIPPING
When mature, 12-inch boards are set on edge close to
the celery in order to blanch it. Heavy black building paper,
cut in 10- or 12-inch strips
and held close to the plants
by wire wickets, may be used
instead of the boards. This
should be done about three
weeks before shipping begins.
The standard container for
shipping Florida celery is the
10-inch celery crate, measuring
10 x 20 x 22 inches. From 336
to 350 of these make a carload.
All car-lots of celery from Flor-
Fig. 8.-Cutter used in harvesting id are shipped in refrigerator
celery cars, well iced.








Florida Cooperative Extension


CUCUMBERS
Cucumbers are grown as a market crop in most of the
trucking areas of Florida. The earliest crops are planted dur-
ing late, fall and protected against cold in winter by cloth covers
or greenhouses. These cucumbers are usually consumed locally
or within the, state. The largest acreage is marketed from
April to June: These are grown under field conditions and
shipped, in carload lots to northern markets.
SOILS
For cucumbers select a fine, well-drained, sandy loam with
preferably a southern slope. Flat land with a fair supply of
moisture is favorable, providing it has sufficient drainage and
is of good quality. Flat pinewoods land with a hardpan soil
and subject to overflows is usually not suitable for cucumbers.
Such soils may be improved by draining, liming and plowing un-
der considerable quantities of vegetation. The best crops are
grown on the best grades of pine land.
SOIL PREPARATION
To prepare soil for cucumbers plow it fairly deep and pul-
yerize the surface. All vegetation should be turned under two
months before planting time in order to have it thoroly incor-
porated with the soil. The greater the amount of well-rotted
vegetation plowed under, the quicker the cucumber crop will
be produced.
PLANTING
When ready to plant, plow the land, preferably in five-foot
beds, and plant the seeds two feet apart on the beds. It is best
to check off the field and work a part of the fertilizer into the
hills ten days before planting. To fertilize one day and plant
the next will probably injure the small plants, unless the fertil-
izer is thoroly incorporated with the soil.
The time for planting will depend on the locality and mar-
ket intended. Planting should be done just as early as danger
of frost is over. It requires from 75 to 90 days from the time
the seeds are planted until the first cucumbers are picked.
For small areas the plants may be started in pots in the
seedbed and later transplanted to the field. This requires much
labor and is not a general practice where the acreage is large.
When the seeds are planted directly in the field, eight or ten
should be dropped in each hill. This will insure sufficient







Commercial Truck Crops of Florida


plants for a good stand. After the plants are well established,
thin to about three or four to the hill.
Some growers prefer to lay the rows off four feet apart,
to plant five or six seeds about every three feet, and then to
thin down to about two plants as soon as large enough. It will
require about two pounds of seed to plant one acre.
Either of these methods will supply sufficient plants for
the entire field, and should there be missing hills these can be
filled in by transplanting from thick places, using a spade so
that plenty of earth can be carried with the roots.

CULTIVATION
As soon as plants are large enough they should be given
shallow cultivation. This hastens growth, causing them to put
on early bloom. Cultivation should be continued until the vines
fill up the middles.
PROTECTION
Protection.is often provided by making V-shaped troughs
of 12-inch boards. The rows are run east and west in the


Fig. 9.-Troughs used for protecting cucumbers







Florida Cooperative Extension


field and the troughs are laid immediately behind the plants
with one side up. This gives protection from cold during spring,
assists in germinating the seed thru radiation of sun rays from
the back boards and prevents the plants from being whipped
around by wind. In case of a freeze, these troughs can be
turned over the plants to protect them.
Successive plantings should be made; so that, if one crop
be killed by chance frost, other plants will be coming on.
FERTILIZATION
Cucumbers require liberal fertilization. About 1600
pounds to the acre of commercial fertilizer, analyzing 5 percent
ammonia, 4 percent phosphoric acid and 5 or 6 percent potash
should be sufficient. Half of this should be applied ten days
before the seeds are sown, and the remainder ten days before
the first blooms are likely to occur. In applying the fertilizer
after the plants are grown, it should be kept at least 15 inches
from the plants and worked well into the soil with a cultivator.
Unless the fertilizer is incorporated with the soil, it will usually
be slow in providing plant food to the vines, inasmuch as this
season is usually a dry one in Florida.
Should the crop indicate lack of growth, an application of
200 pounds nitrate of soda or sulphate of ammonia to the acre
may be applied as a top dressing. Some care must be exercised
in applying this, or there will be danger of the plants shedding

r -.


ii i "


1ui ~jl


Fig. 10.-Cucumbers with overhead irrigation







Commercial Truck Crops of Florida


their early bloom; and care should be used not to let the fer-
tilizer fall on the plants, as it will have a tendency to burn the
leaves. The purpose of this application of ammonia is to stim-
ulate growth and produce more bearing surface.
IRRIGATION
It is usually profitable to provide irrigation for cucumbers,
as the season of ripening extends thru a drought season. While
cucumbers will withstand considerable drought, the yield will
be light, unless they have sufficient moisture. Over-irrigation
is to be avoided, as this will have a tendency to stimulate dis-
eases and, thus, a lower yield. Cucumber growers usually prefer
surface or sub-irrigation systems. It is the practice of the best
growers to use water only when needed to keep the plants in a
growing and producing condition.
HARVESTING
Cucumbers are as a rule ready to pick when the fruit grows
from five to eight inches in length and the blossom end is round-
ed out well. They must be
sufficiently mature to get a
maximum yield. However,
if allowed to become over-
ripe they are not salable.
They should be picked be-
fore the seeds show a ten-
dency to harden and gath-
ered in field baskets, taken
to a packing shed and placed
in cucumber crates for ship-
ment. In the early part of
the season it will be neces-
sary generally to pick over
the field at least twice a
week; but after the season
advances and the fruit ma-
tures more rapidly, three
pickings a week will be nec-
essary in order to prevent
Fig. 11.-A crate of cucumbers some fruits becoming too
mature. All ill-shaped,
wormy and unmarketable fruit should be pulled from the vines
when picking, as these draw on soil fertility and moisture and
are usually worthless for marketing.







Florida Cooperative Extension


VARIETIES
The most important commercial varieties raised under field
conditions are the Improved White Spine and Davis Perfect.
These varieties are good shippers and produce well under aver-
age conditions.
Other varieties, such as the Early Russian or Early Cluster,
are grown for home use, especially where early fruit is desired.

EGGPLANTS
Eggplants are grown in all sections of Florida suitable to
vegetable production. In most parts of the state they are
grown as late fall and early spring crops. South Florida, how-
ever, raises them as a winter crop. While eggplants are pro-
duced under conditions similar to those of tomatoes, they are
not as easily grown and require more intensive cultivation. The
plants-are delicate when raised in the seedbed and have to be
transplanted with care. They are more subject to disease
than tomatoes, so that seedbed management is important in
getting the crop started right,
,Eggplants require careful attention and should, be planted
on soil fertilized well. The plant is a deep feeder with quite
an extensive root system, so that it is capable of using liberal
amounts of fertilizer.
SOILS
The most suitable soil for eggplants is a sandy loam, having
a'fair 'supply of vegetable atter. A constant supply of mois-
ture is required, especially dntil the plants become firmly rooted.
They will not thrive well on loose, coarse sand where the soil
is dry and thirsty; nor will they do well on poorly drained, flat
land, but they make good crops on well-drained hammock lands.
PLANTING
For eggplants to mature about 120 days from the time the
plants are set in the field are required. The seedbeds should
be planted about four weeks in advance of transplanting so as
to have good, strong plants.
Approximately six ounces of seed will plant an acre, and
about 3000 plants will set an acre.
Eggplants are usually set in five-foot rows, one plant to
every 36 inches. In setting them out more care must be exer-
cised than with tomatoes. They are easily wilted and, if
set out during warm weather, should be shaded for a few days.








Commercial Truck Crops of Florida


This is particularly true with fall plantings. Many growers
place palmetto fans close to the plants, so as to protect them
from the sun.
VARIETIES
The most profitable varieties for Florida are Black Beauty,
Florida Highbush, New York Improved Spineless and Early
Long Purple. Of these Black Beauty is the most generally
grown.


Fig. 12.-Eggplants
Fig. 12.-Eggplants


CULTIVATION
As the roots of eggplants grow deep into the soil, cultivation
may be deeper than with most other vegetables. This is par-
ticularly true during a wet season. However, if the soil is dry,
shallow cultivation gives better results as it does not disturb
the roots.
HARVESTING
Eggplants are usually ready to pick when the fruits be-
come deep purple in color and firm in texture. If allowed to
become over-ripe, they will not carry. If picked too green, they
lack in flavor and will wilt before reaching market.
The fruit of the eggplant is easily bruised and must be
handled with exceptional care. It should be cut, not pulled,







Florida Cooperative Extension


with a stem about half an inch long. It should be cut also when
dry and be handled just as little as possible. In packing wrap
each fruit in paper.
FERTILIZATION
From one to two tons commercial fertilizer, analyzing 5
percent ammonia, 5 percent phosphoric acid and 5 percent pot-
ash, should be applied to the acre. Fertilize at least twice, ap-
plying half the given amount two weeks before setting the
plants and the remainder three or four weeks later. Some grow-
ers make a third application when the blooms start opening.
The ammonia in the third application should be from an inor-
ganic source.
PACKING
Florida eggplants are packed in the standard pepper and
eggplant crate, 111/4 x 14 x 22 inches. From 350 to 400 crates
make a carload.
LETTUCE

The soil best suited to lettuce growing is a moist, rich,
compact, sandy loam that can be irrigated and thoroly drained.
As lettuce must be grown in Florida during the cool months, in
order to prevent seeding and to produce solid heads, the soil
must be warm, well-supplied with decayed vegetable matter and
be sufficiently drained that the water will run off quickly after
heavy rains. If the drainage is at all uncertain, the crop should
be set on beds between which are water furrows leading into an
open ditch.
In order to produce rapid growth the soil must be thoroly
pulverized, made sweet and put in good, physical condition.
After the soil has been prepared by plowing and cultivating
the surface thoroly, the rows should be checked off in squares
of from 12 to 15 inches, according to the variety.
Plants are taken from the seedbed, when four leaves have
formed, and set in the checks, after the soil has been moistened
by irrigation. The soil must be packed and settled firmly
around the roots by hand and a small amount of water poured
from a dipper. Then allow the soil to dry out and warm up
to induce rapid growth.
CULTIVATION
Shallow cultivation should begin as soon as the plants be-
gin growing. As the plants are set close together all cultiva-







Commercial Truck Crops of Florida


tion must be done by hand weeders and hand cultivators. It is
necessary to keep up shallow cultivation until the crop is har-
vested. If the soil happens to become water-soaked by heavy
rains, it may be cultivated a little deeper.
IRRIGATION
Lettuce should be planted where the soil can be irrigated
and, while it does not require as much soil moisture as celery
to insure a good crop, the soil must be kept constantly moist.
Liberal plant food must be provided continually. Lettuce must
make a rapid, vigorous growth in order to be tender and
marketable.















Fig. 13.-Lettuce

Great care should be exercised in irrigating lettuce, for
the crop is easily ruined by over-watering.
VARIETIES
The chief shipping variety of lettuce for Florida is Big
Boston, but both Cream Butter and Paris White Cos or Romaine
are grown for shipment.
FERTILIZATION
According to the richness of the soil, from one and a half
to two and a half tons commercial fertilizer to the acre, analyz-
ing 5 percent ammonia, 5 percent phosphoric acid and 5 percent
potash, are used in two applications. Half the fertilizer should
be thoroly worked into the soil two weeks before setting the
plants and the remainder two weeks after the plants are set.







Florida Cooperative Extension


CUTTING AND PACKING
Lettuce should be cut for shipping as soon as it becomes well
headed, and packed in the standard lettuce crate, 71/2 x 18 x 22
inches, or in the standard lettuce hamper. The standard ham-
per, however, is falling into disuse.
From 350 to 400 packages of lettuce make a carload and all
car-lots should be shipped under refrigeration.

OKRA
Okra is planted quite generally thruout Florida. In some
sections it is an important commercial crop. Okra is a warm
weather plant and in Florida should be grown as a summer crop.
Plant between February and September. It will not do well
unless the ground it fairly warm. It can be planted on a variety
of soils, but does best on a sandy loam where there are fair
amounts of fertility and moisture.
PLANTING
The rows should be about three feet apart. The seeds are
small and, therefore, must be covered shallowly. When tthe
plants are well-established thin to one every 12 inches. How-
ever, on exceptionally moist and rich soils the plants may be
thicker. It requires about the same cultivation as corn, particu-
larly during dry weather. It is one of the easiest crops to grow,
and bears for several months.
HARVESTING AND MARKETING
Okra should be cut every two or three days. If this is not
done, the pods become hard, unsuitable for table use. Then,
too, if not cut regularly, the plants stop bearing.
When okra is shipped to market, it is packed in six-basket
tomato carriers. There is usually a fair demand for it, and
generally at prices which warrant shipping by express.
FERTILIZATION
Fertilize about the same as for sweet corn, applying from
600 to 800 pounds to the acre on thin land. If stable manure
is abundantly available, okra may be grown without commercial
fertilizer.
VARIETIES
The best varieties for Florida are Perkins Mammoth Pod-
ded, Long Green and White Velvet. Perkins Mammoth Podded
is especially recommended for shipping. This variety has deep







Commercial Truck Crops of Florida


green, long pods. Long Green and White Velvet are particu-
larly good for home use, as well as being good shippers.

ONIONS
Onions are generally grown as a garden crop, but not ex-
tensively as a market crop. Under favorable conditions they
are one of the easiest vegetable crops to produce. However, the
soil must be rich, moist and in good cultural condition to produce
a satisfactory crop.
SOIL
Onions grow best on a dark, sandy loam soil well-filled with
organic matter and having a clay or compact subsoil to insure
a constant supply of moisture. Onions are shallow rooted, and
are affected quickly by excessive drouth or rain. This requires
good cultural conditions and ample drainage, especially on flat
land. Pine flatwoods with a comparatively heavy sandy loam,
a good grade of muck soil with some sand in it, or hammock
land of good quality, is quite suitable for this crop. They must
have a plentiful supply of organic ammonia, readily available
to the plants all the time, in order to grow off rapidly and pro-
duce large, well-shaped onions.
PLANTING
After the soil has been thoroly plowed and pulverized and
put in shape for planting, the rows are laid off from 12 to 14
inches apart and the plants set by hand fairly deep and from
four to six inches apart in the rows. While the onion will with-
stand considerable drought on account of its large bulb, it will
not grow off readily without plenty of moisture.
It will require about 90,000 onion plants to set an acre.
Onions are also grown from sets, but better crops are
usually produced from plants. Sets are not grown in Florida.
They are produced usually in Texas and may be purchased from
dealers. It requires eight to twelve bushels of sets to plant
one acre. These sets are planted from four to six inches apart
in 12- to 15-inch rows.
During dry weather the sets will be slow to sprout, unless
the plot can be irrigated. Therefore, irrigation is usually nec-
essary to insure a good stand and a uniform crop.
CULTIVATION
Onions require constant care and cultivation during the
growing period. This cultivation must be shallow. The roots







Florida Cooperative Extension


do not penetrate deeply into the soil and must not be disturbed
in cultivating. Cultivation is intended to maintain a surface
mulch, and to keep weeds down. This cultivation should be
kept up until the crop begins to show maturity.
FERTILIZATION
Onions require liberal fertilization. From 1800 to 2000
pounds fertilizer is not excessive. In addition to this, it will
be advisable to apply from four to ten two-horse loads of well-
rotted stable manure to the acre. This manure should be thoroly
worked into the soil before the seeds or plants are set, in order
not to interfere with cultivation after the plants are started.
The commercial fertilizer should be given in two or three appli-
cations, the first a few days before setting and later applications
before the crop is half mature. This fertilizer should analyze
high in ammonia, the following formula being good: 6 percent
ammonia, 5 percent phosphoric acid and 5 percent potash. The
source of ammonia should be principally from cottonseed meal,
tankage or fish scrap. Later when the crop is half grown, an
additional application of 200 pounds to the acre of nitrate of
soda or sulphate of ammonia, scattered broadcast between the
rows and worked in with hand tools, will increase the size of
the onions and give them renewed growth. Poultry manure is
especially valuable in producing an onion crop. This can be
worked in between the rows with good results after the plants
are well-started.
WHEN TO HARVEST
Onions should be harvested after being bottomed out well
and after the leaf tips have begun to turn yellow.
When onions are to be shipped they must be harvested
during dry weather and handled carefully. Slight bruises,
especially during moist weather, are likely to cause rotting.
After being pulled, onions should not be subjected even to heavy
dews. If to remain in the open over night, they should be cov-
ered with sacks to keep off the moisture. In twisting off the
tops care must be taken that the tops are not broken too close
to the bulbs. This, too, will cause the onion to rot. On ac-
count of the moist climate of Florida and the difficulty of get-
ting the product to market in as good condition as onion growers
of drier climates, onions have not become an important com-
mercial crop here. The local market is best for Florida onions
as they can be supplied fresh.







Commercial Truck Crops of Florida


VARIETIES AND YIELDS
The principal varieties recommended for Florida are Crys-
tal Wax, White Bermuda, Red Bermuda and Australian Brown.
Care should be exercised in procuring pure seed. If one gets
mixed seeds he is liable to get some of the multiplier onions
which do not develop and are not suitable for most markets.
The yield of onions in this state ranges from 400 to 500
bushels to the acre. On some of the richer soils as high as 700
bushels to the acre have been reported.
CURING THE CROP
Before onions can be packed they must be cured. After
the crop is pulled and allowed to dry in the field, the bulbs
should be spread in a curing shed or on a roof, if they can be
covered or handled in case of heavy rain. After the onions have
dried, the tops are removed and the outer leaves stripped off.
As soon as sufficiently cured they are placed in crates for mar-
keting.
Florida onions are usually packed in bushel hampers.
The crop should be harvested and shipped during April
and May for best prices.

ENGLISH PEAS
English peas require a richer soil than beans. If liberal
quantities of stable manure can be placed in the bottom of the
rows before the seeds are planted, a good crop will be insured.
If the soil is poor and lacks humus, the plants will be weak and
spindling and the crop light. It is necessary to have consid-
erable vines and leaves in order to get a good yield of peas.
English peas need a fairly moist soil. But they will not
make satisfactory growth on wet, sour land or on new muck
land. The pea is a legume and requires nitrogen-fixing bacteria
in order to produce a good yield. The best pea soils are the bet-
ter grades of hammock where drainage is good.
PLANTING
English peas should be sown fairly thickly in rows about
four feet apart. There should be one seed to the inch in the
drill. This will require about two bushels to the acre. If the
soil is dry, the seeds should be planted deeply. Like other vege-
tables peas need frequent cultivation and this should be done
with horse cultivators, just as long as it is possible to pass
between the rows.







Florida Cooperative Extension


FERTILIZATION
English peas should be fertilized, with from 500 to 800
pounds commercial fertilizer to the acre; and in addition, a
good supply of stable manure, if it is available. Organic am-
monia is preferable to inorganic, altho this legume will use al-
most any kind of available fertilizer. Where the growth shows
a lack of ammonia, 100 pounds nitrate of soda may be added as
a top dressing when the crop is beginning to show the first fruit.
This will prolong the bearing period, as it causes an extra amount
of vegetative growth.
IRRIGATION
Irrigation will not be necessary, if the land is naturally
moist. But, if planted on high, thirsty land, it will be profit-
able to apply moisture when the crop shows need of it.
PICKING AND MARKETING
Under favorable conditions, there should be some peas
sufficiently mature to pick in 60 days after planting. The
bearing period is likely to be distributed over 30 or 40 days.
Therefore, several pickings are necessary. For local use, the
peas can be gathered when fairly green; never allow them to
dry or harden. For distant shipments they can be a little
more mature, as they will carry better.
Under favorable conditions a crop of English peas is one
of the easiest crops to grow, but they are light yielders, unless
careful attention is given to the details of production.
The crop is shipped in bushel hampers.
VARIETIES
The best varieties for Florida are Alaska Extra Early,
Florida McNeil, Nott's Excelsior and John L. Extra Early.

PEPPERS
Peppers are commonly grown in Florida. It is one of the
longest-lived vegetables of this state, sometimes bearing more
than six or eight months. In sections it is one of the most
profitable crops. This is particularly true in South Florida,
where it is less subjected to freezing temperature.
SOIL
Peppers require a moist, fairly compact, sandy loam soil.
A good type of flatwoods is superior to rolling pine, hammock







Commercial Truck Crops of Florida


or muck land; altho the plant can be grown on any of these
soils, if properly fertilized and managed.

PLANTING
After the soil has been plowed fairly deeply and pulverized
thoroly, single plants are set 20 inches apart in 36-inch rows.
As pepper plants are less hardy than tomatoes, more care must
be exercised in setting them out. They must be planted care-
fully, usually on beds and by hand, with the crown roots pressed
carefully into the soil, but not too deeply. Care must be taken
not to break the plants in setting them out. Weak, spindling
plants are difficult to transplant; so, in moving them from the
seedbed, they must have more care than tomatoes.
It will require about 9000 plants to set an acre. Cultiva-
tion should be frequent and shallow, shallow in order not to
destroy roots.
FERTILIZATION
From one to two and a half tons of commercial fertilizer,
analyzing 4 percent ammonia, 6 percent phosphoric acid and 3
percent potash, should be used to the acre, according to the
length of the crop season. In addition, light applications of
nitrate of soda (100 pounds to the acre) may be profitably made
each month during the bearing period.

PACKING
Peppers are packed in the standard pepper crate, 111/4 x
14 x 22 inches. From 350 to 400 crates make a carload, which
should be shipped under refrigeration.
VARIETIES
The best varieties for shipment are Ruby King and World
Beater. Pimiento is the best for home use and canning.

SQUASH
The squash is one of the easiest of truck crops to produce
as it can be grown on almost any good, farming soil. It can
be grown alone or with corn. The chief objection to planting it
with corn is the difficulty in properly cultivating the corn when
cultivation is most needed.
Squash also makes heavy yields on muck or flat lands, but
the fruit from such lands usually does not ship as well as from
higher soils, nor is it of as good quality.







Florida Cooperative Extension


VARIETIES
The early varieties are the only ones suitable for shipping.
These varieties are the Cocozelle, White Bush or Patty Pan
Squash, Early Crook Neck, Early Yellow Bush and Mammoth
White Bush. These produce fruit 45 to 60 days after planting.
The later varieties, recommended for home use, are principally
Hubbard, Giant Summer and Crook Neck Boston Marrow.

FERTILIZATION
From 800 to 1200 pounds commercial fertilizer to the acre
should be used. All of this can be applied before planting. On
thin, sandy land, however it is better to apply half before plant-
ing and the remainder when the plants are about a month old. As
squash requires liberal quantities of organic fertilizer, it is wise
to work stable manure, decomposed vegetable matter or well-
rotted muck into the soil before planting. In addition, an appli-
cation of from 600 to 1000 pounds commercial fertilizer to the
acre should be used. This is needed to supply the plants with
a more available form of ammonia, which will cause them to
grow and fruit as early as possible.

PLANTING
The earlier varieties of squash can be planted in checks,
4 x 4 feet, but the later, running varieties should be planted in
checks, 6 x 8 feet. The seeds are planted four or five to each
hill. This will require about two pounds of seed to the acre.
The seeds will sprout in a few days, and when two or three
inches high should be thinned to about three plants to the hill.
If the weather is warm, the crop will grow rapidly and culti-
vation should be continued as long as it is possible to work
between the rows.
Squash plants can be easily transplanted; but, unless one
is near an excellent market, it would hardly pay to go to the
extra expense involved in transplanting.
The squash is a surface feeder, and as the vines grow close
to the ground, care must be taken in cultivating not to bruise
them; just enough cultivation to maintain moisture is sufficient.

PACKING AND MARKETING
Squashes are usually packed in bushel hampers, in standard
pepper and eggplant crates and in standard cucumber crates.







Commercial Truck Crops of Florida


There is a market for southern grown squashes, if shipped
early in the season when they usually bring a fair price, com-
pared with the cost of production. There is also a market in
southern towns, usually, for a limited quantity. They should
be handled with some care to avoid rotting in transit, but there
should be no difficulty in shipping to eastern markets, if ordi-
nary care is exercised in picking and packing.
As ripe fruit can be gathered in late fall when some vege-
tables are not growing, and since it is easily grown, both as a
fall and spring crop, the squash is one of the most satisfactory
truck crops for home use in Florida.

STRAWBERRIES
Strawberries are quite generally grown thruout Florida.
The principal market crops are produced in Hillsboro, DeSoto,
Manatee, Dade and Bradford Counties, Hillsboro leading in
acreage.
SOIL AND ITS PREPARATION
The best soil for strawberries is the better grades of flat-
woods. This soil is dark in color, sandy and level. The more
decomposed organic matter it contains the better.
Strawberries require a warm soil, as the crop is harvested
between January 1 and April 20. If the soil is cold and wet,
few berries will ripen during winter when prices are usually
highest.
Soil intended for setting strawberries will be benefited by
a heavy crop of cowpeas or beggarweeds plowed under 30 days
before the plants are to be set. The soil should be thoroly
plowed and pulverized by discing, in order that it might be in
the best condition possible before the plants are set.
PLANTING
Two systems are generally adopted for planting in Florida.
If the land is drained well and there is no danger from flooding
after heavy rains, the plants should be set in 30- to 36-inch'sin-
gle rows, or rows wide enough apart that a horse cultivator can
be used. Set the plants about 14 inches apart in the rows.
Where the soil is subject to overflow, the two- or three-
row system is advisable; that is, make narrow beds, about 40
inches wide, with a water furrow between, and set the plants 12
inches apart in 12-inch rows. This insures the crop's not being
drowned out. The system will require hand cultivation except







Florida Cooperative Extension


in the water furrow, which may be kept open by horse culti-
vators.
Strawberry plants are usually set during September and
October. They require three to four months to come into full
bearing. In exceptional cases a good supply of fruit may be
produced in ten weeks from the time the plants are set. It will
require approximately 12,000 to 15,000 plants to the acre. The
best crops are made where the plants are set every year. It is
seldom advisable to carry plants over two years.
For intensive culture, especially on expensive land and near
good markets, or in small garden plots, the plants can be set
much closer than under ordinary conditions. This will involve
much more hand labor, but will produce larger crops, if given
proportionately heavier fertilization and irrigation. Irrigation
is especially valuable in commercial berry growing, as the bear-
ing season can be prolonged and larger berries produced.
FERTILIZATION
As suggested above, strawberries require liberal organic
fertilization; five to ten tons stable manure to the acre, thoroly
mixed with the soil before planting, is highly desirable. In ad-
dition, they should be given from 1500 to 1800 pounds com-
mercial fertilizer. This should be applied in two or three appli-
cations, a third before the plants are set, a third six weeks after
the plants are set and the remainder when the first crop is
setting. In addition 100 pounds nitrate of soda or sulphate of
ammonia, should be applied with this third application. If the
berries are small, this nitrogenous material will increase their
size and prolong the bearing period.
CULTIVATING AND MULCHING
Good cultivation should be kept up thruout the growing
and bearing season.
When the crop is about ready to pick, it is advisable to
mulch with grass or pine straw. This prevents the soil from
drying out and keeps the berries off the ground, making them
cleaner and it easier to have a clean pack. This also prevents
the berries being beaten into the ground during a heavy rain.
PICKING AND PACKING
Strawberries are picked in field baskets, taken to a packing
shed, and there sorted and packed in quart baskets. These
quart baskets are packed into 24- or 32-quart ventilated crates,
if to be shipped to local markets, or into pony refrigerator boxes







Commercial Truck Crops of Florida


which hold from 60 to 80 quarts, if to be shipped to distant
markets. These refrigerator boxes contain trays for ice.
VARIETIES
The varieties most generally grown, especially for ship-
ment, are Missionary and Klondyke. Brandywine, Excelsior
and Lady Thompson are grown for early local markets.

SWEET CORN
Sweet corn can be grown on average vegetable land, and
does well in all sections of Florida; but, like other vegetable
crops, it does best on rich, moist soil. The land should be pre-
pared about the same as for other vegetable and corn crops.
It will make poor growth on dry, thin, sandy land and will not
do well on wet, undrained, new land.
VARIETIES
The Country Gentleman is the favorite variety for Florida.
This is an old standard variety, adapted to most soils. It will
be ready to pick about 70 days after planting, is fairly prolific
and on well-cultivated land will give two or more ears to the
stalk.
Other varieties to be recommended are Long Island Beauty,
Stowells' Evergreen, which matures in about 75 days, and Early
Adams, which matures in about 60 days.
PLANTING
On account of the probability of being attacked by the ear
worm, sweet corn should be planted just as early as weather con-
ditions will permit and made to grow rapidly by frequent culti-
vation and liberal fertilization.
In order to have a succession of sweet corn, it is necessary
to make several plantings about a week apart. This lengthens
the picking season and prevents the entire crop's maturing at
one time.
Sweet corn should be planted much closer than field varie-
ties. On good vegetable soil it may be planted in three-foot
rows, one stalk every 15 inches. However, if the soil is dry,
wider planting is better. Sweet corn will produce the best filled
out ears when planted fairly closely, because of the better dis-
tribution of pollen. It should not be planted too thickly, how-
ever, particularly on thin land, or it will suffer for moisture
when most needing it. This will mean small ears of poor quality.








Florida Cooperative Extension


CULTIVATION
The cultivation of sweet corn is the same as for field corn;
that is, frequent and shallow, especially during dry seasons.
FERTILIZATION
Apply commercial fertilizer at the rate of 600 to 800 pounds
to the acre, working it into the soil before planting. When the
crop is about two feet high, broadcast about 100 pounds nitrate
of soda or sulphate of ammonia on each acre and work it into
the soil with a shallow-working tool.
MARKETING
For marketing the ears should be gathered when the kernels
are in the milk stage. Ears of different sizes should be packed
together; but do not place a variety of sizes in the same crate.
There is always a demand for early sweet corn, and at good
prices. Where conditions are at all favorable, it will be profit-
able for the average trucker to follow celery and lettuce with
sweet corn.
Sweet corn is packed in ten-inch celery crates, 350 of which
make a carload.
Sweet corn should be planted in every home garden.

TOMATOES

The tomato is one of the most generally grown vegetables
of Florida. It is produced as a home garden crop in practically
every community, being one of the easiest and most satisfactory
vegetables grown. In many sections it is also one of the most
profitable truck crops for shipping.
Tomatoes are grown in Florida during the warmest peri-
ods of the trucking season. If set out in July or August and
shaded until strong, a fall crop can be produced in North
Florida. They can also be set in South Florida during late fall
for an early winter crop.
Most Florida tomatoes, however, are grown during late
winter and spring. The earliest shipments of importance are
grown on the flat lands of the lower East Coast. These toma-
toes are planted in January and February, and marketed in
April. The next crop is produced on the lower West Coast.
These plants are set in the field in February and March and
shipped during May and June. North of these sections planting
continues until April 15 and even up to June 1 for home use.







Commercial Truck Crops of Florida


The soil best suited to tomato growing is well-drained,
sandy loam, altho excellent crops are produced on a great va-
riety of soils, from loose sand to muck; but for uniformity and
early ripening sandy soils make the earliest crop. Earliness is


Fig. 14.-Staked tomatoes


desirable, in order that the fruit may be placed on the market
before crops nearer the eastern markets can be harvested.
SOIL PREPARATION
The soil is prepared in the usual way by plowing and thoro
cultivation. Where stable manure is available growers prefer
to place a handful under each hill of tomatoes as the plants are
set in the field. This is especially true when the crop is grown
on lands liable to overflow during summer. It is also desirable
on all sandy land.
The rows are laid off every four feet and the plants set
15 inches apart in the rows. In setting the plants they should
be set much deeper than they were in the seedbed.
Where a large acreage is to be set, one can open the fur-







Florida Cooperative Extension


row, depress the plants rapidly by hand and then turn another
furrow back on the plants, being careful not to completely cover
them. Tomatoes are among the easiest plants to transplant,
and, if the plants are stocky, the soil moist, and conditions of
growth favorable, there is little difficulty in getting a good
stand.
Tomatoes are cultivated principally with a one-horse culti-
vator, and this is kept up as long as it is possible to pass between
the rows. Care must be exercised not to cut the roots after the
plants begin to bloom, or the bloom and early fruit may be shed.
Pruning to a single stem, tying to a five-foot stake and
thinning the fruit to four or five hands or clusters, will pro-
duce the finest product. Labor so expended in home gardens
and on small areas will be well-spent.
FERTILIZATION

An acre of tomatoes should receive upward of a ton of
fertilizer, analyzing 5 percent ammonia, 6 percent phosphoric
acid and 5 percent potash. If the soil is rich in humus and
organic matter, 1200 to 1500 pounds may be sufficient. Too
much ammonia is likely to cause soft tomatoes, liable to bruises
and decay in shipping. However, sufficient ammonia is needed
to give them good growth.
On loose, thin soil two applications of fertilizer are prefer-
able to one. The first application should be given immediately
before, or soon after the plants are set, and the second when
the first bloom is noticeable. In working this second applica-
tion into the soil care must be exercised not to break the roots
during cultivation or the fruit will shed. At this stage, too,
care must be observed in cultivation, for, if the plants are al-
ready stimulated to vigorous growth, additional cultivation will
further stimulate them and cause an excessive vegetable growth
and frequent shedding of the blooms. The first crop may be
lost thereby.
The ammonia used in tomato fertilizer should be obtained
principally from an inorganic source, chiefly sulphate of am-
monia or sulphate of potash. However, a small amount of or-
ganic fertilizer, particularly on sandy soils, tends to produce
strong, vigorous plants with a large bearing surface. A week
should elapse between the application of the fertilizer and the
setting of the plants, or a caustic effect will be produced on the
newly set plants, setting them back and possibly killing them.







Commercial Truck Crops of Florida


PICKING THE CROP
As the earliest tomatoes usually bring the highest prices,
it is necessary to pick over the crop several times. When a
fruit is nearly mature in size and begins shading from dark
green to a light green, it is ready to pick and ship. In this
condition the fruit is too green for local markets and should be
allowed to ripen a little more, as the flavor is improved. Picking
is done in ordinary market baskets. The fruit is taken to the
packing house, sorted, wrapped and crated, selecting the better
fruit for the higher classes. Usually the culls are disposed of
locally or dumped.
VARIETIES
The principal varieties of tomatoes for Florida are Liv-
ingston's Globe (purple red) and Stone (scarlet). Both of
these mature early, stand shipment well, are of good size, are
smooth, and when ripe have a fine color. For home gardens
several other varieties may be grown satisfactorily. Ponderosa,
which grows much larger but less uniformly, produces a satis-
factory yield and is quite suitable for home consumption. June
Pink and Earlianna for extra early crops are also used for
home gardens.

The following Agricultural Experiment Station bulletins,
which will be found useful to the vegetable grower, are available
upon request:
Diseases of Truck Crops, No. 139.
Insects of Truck Crops, No. 151.
Irish Potatoes, No. 133.










Florida Cooperative Extension


CONTENTS


SEEDBEDS .............. ............ .... ..... ... ... ..

B EAN S .............. ....... .. ........ ... ...

BEETS ............-..............---..........


CABBAGE ..-......- ....... ..-- ...... ...... .......

CAULIFLOW ER .............. .. .. ...... ..... ............. .........-

CELERY ..... ....... ... .....

CUCUMBERS -.. ...............-. ....................... ..


E GGPLANTS ........... .... ......... ... ........ .....

LETTUCE .........................-.---- ........

OKRA ........ ......................... ......

O N ION S ........ ... ............ ................ ......... ....... .--.........

ENGLISH PEAS ............................. ......... ..............

PEPPERS ......---- ........ ..- ....... ...

SQUASH ......... .......... .. --- ......... .. ..... .......

STRAWBERRIES ....-.... ...

SW EET CORN .............. ...... ..... ........ ..... ...

TOM ATOES ........ ...... .... .... ......-. ..... ........... .......


PAGE
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-. ----------- 4


.. 6


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