Title: Florida quarterly bulletin of the Department of Agriculture
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00077080/00040
 Material Information
Title: Florida quarterly bulletin of the Department of Agriculture
Series Title: Florida quarterly bulletin of the Department of Agriculture.
Uniform Title: Report of the Chemical Division
Alternate Title: Celery growing in Florida
Physical Description: 9 v. : ill. (some folded) ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Florida -- Dept. of Agriculture
Publisher: Florida. Department of Agriculture
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Fla.
Manufacturer: Artcraft Printers
Publication Date: April 1926
Frequency: quarterly
Subject: Agriculture -- Periodicals -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Agricultural industries -- Statistics -- Periodicals -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: periodical   ( marcgt )
Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Statistics   ( lcsh )
Dates or Sequential Designation: Vol. 31, no. 4 (Oct., 1921)-v. 39, no. 3 (July 1929).
General Note: Title from cover.
General Note: Each no. has also a distinctive title.
General Note: Many issue number 1's are the Report of the Chemical Division
General Note: Issues occasional supplements.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00077080
Volume ID: VID00040
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 28473180

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Celery Growing in


APRIL, 1926

Commissioner of Agriculture
Tallahassee, Florida

Artcraft Printers, Tallabassee




Entomologist and Plant Pathologist, University of Florida

Not only does Florida produce a larger quantity
of celery than any other state, but she does it on
relatively fewer acres. In other words, the average
yield per acre covering a five-year period is twice
that of California and ranges from 150 to 300 crates
per acre more than any other celery-producing state.
For instance, California, with an average acreage of
5,765 from 1921 to 1924, inclusive, produced an
average of 1,275,000 crates, while Florida, with an
acreage of only 3,095, produced 1,398,000 crates in
the same time period. Thus, California must be con-
tent to take second place, and the third position is
taken by New York, in point of total annual produc-
tion. So far as quality is concerned, the laurels must
necessarily go to Florida again, and as a wealth
producer this crisp crop ranlfs high among the truck
crops of the State. From a gross return of a little
less than $10,000,000, the growers netted approxi-
mately half of this sum in 1924.


Celery production has had a steady rise in Florida
for the past 10 years, reaching the 4,000 acre mark
last year. Due to labor shortage, the area devoted
to this crop will be a little short this year. About
three-fourths of the crop of the State is grown at
Sanford, in Seminole County. The other most im-

7 I... -a y } i

Car-lof shipments
by counties, 14 '
Value per car ///117
Total value $3,09~000

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portant center is at Bradenton, on the Gulf Coast.
The counties of Hardee, Hillsboro, Sarasota and
Orange have an output ranging from 90 to 65 cars,
in the order named. The accompanying map shows
the principal shipping points and the number of
cars shipped from each county for the season of
1924 and 1925.
More intensive methods are used in the growing
of celery than any of the other truck crops. The
average acreage handled by one man is about 7.
Since improved land around Sanford suitable for
celery growing sells for $1,500 to $2,500 per acre,
the initial investment in land, implements and mules
is very large. Then add to this the cost of grow-
ing a crop up to the time it is cut, which will amount
to $600 to $1,000 per acre, and seven acres looms
up pretty large. And this fact has no doubt acted
as a sieve so that the shiftless and unstable class of
truck grower has been almost entirely eliminated.
In other words, it just naturally takes a good man
to stay with the celery game and succeed at it.


Suitable celery soil varies widely in various parts
of the State. At Sanford it is a very fine sandy loam
known as a "flatwoods" soil. These flatwoods soils
are low .and naturally wet, but have a high native
fertility. Drainage is essential, but when accom-
plished serves a dual purpose, i. e., drainage and sub-
irrigation. And most of the flatwoods in Florida are
artesian areas, since the first 16 to 36 inches of black
soil is underlain with impervious layers of clay, run-
ning out into the higher surrounding ground. At
Bradenton, most of the celery is grown on a sandy
muck, and here surface irrigation is practiced. This
necessitates ridge planting, as contrasted with flat
culture in the Sanford area.


The seed beds are prepared in the early part of
July. These are made in the celery fields by mak-
ing a shallow trench every six feet, leaving two feet
for the trench between the beds and four feet for
the slightly raised bed. A common practice, though
of questionable value, is to use several hundred
pounds of a complete fertilizer to each acre of beds.
There is considerable evidence that root injury fol-
lows and that a much more vigorous growth will
follow steam sterilization of the beds without the
fertilizer. Experimental work along this line is con-
templated for next season.
Each seed bed is sown in drills across the bed and
wet down with burlap sacks until the seed sprouts.
Further protection is given the bed by light muslin
stretched over triangular supports placed on the
beds at intervals of 12 feet. These supports are held
in place by three wires which also act as anchors for
the muslin, which is pinned with clothespins. On
one side of the bed a fourth wire is stretched at a
height so that one side of the muslin may be raised
to permit better aeration and hardening of the
plants. Later, as the weather cools, these covers are
removed entirely.
Spraying with 4-4-50 Bordeaux begins as soon as
the leaves have formed in the beds and is continued
every week or ten days from then to maturity of the
plants. At first, when the weather is warm, the
spraying is done to protect from Early Blight
(Cercospora apii Fr.) and later, as the weather cools
sufficiently, it must be continued to control the Late
Blight (Septoria petroselini apii Br.) The liquid
Bordeaux is used almost to the exclusion of any
other fungicide since it has so far proved more
economical than copper-lime dust and has given con-
sistently better control.


Transplanting is done when the plants have
reached a height of 4 to 6 inches, or in point of
time, during October. They are placed in rows 30"
apart and 31/" in the row. In Bradenton a double
row of plants 6" apart is planted on the bed. All
planting is done by negro laborers. A marker is
run over the smooth moist seed bed, making an in-
tersecting line for the location of each plant. The
man doing the planting gets down on his hands and
knees and with a small trowel throws the resets into
the ground at the rate of fifteen to twenty thousand
a day. Usually it requires two helpers to each
planter who lay the plants at the intersecting line
made by the marker. The planter is followed im-
mediately by men with sprinkling cans and the
ground is thoroughly wet. The water level is
brought up to near the ground-level until the plants
have established themselves and then only a nominal
but regular supply of water is maintained.
Planting time at Sanford is a very busy as well as
a very interesting time of the year. For the past two
years labor, especially good planters, have been
hard to get at any price, since wages paid by con-
struction companies of subdivisions and highways
have taken a large number of the negro farm hands.
It is interesting to note that the planter likes to be
paid by the number of plants he sets, and also likes
to have the boss indicate the number of plants he
wants put in that day. If he can finish this number
by 2 o'clock he does so and quits for the day.
Planters earn from $8 to $15 a day. Ordinary
colored laborers are being paid from $3.50 to $5.00
per day. In pre-boom days the wages were from
$1.00 to $1.50 a day so that the cost of production
has jumped up "right smart," as the Florida Cracker
would put it.

Commercial or chemical fertilizers are used very
copiously. Usually from two to four tons of a 5-5-5
mixture is applied per acre, in three or four applica-
tions at intervals of a few weeks. The first 1,000 to
2,000 pounds consisting of castorpumice is broad-
casted in a lime spreader just before planting, and
the remainder is put on as side dressings. To each
of these is quite frequently added one or two hun-
dred pounds of nitrate of soda.
Experiments conducted at Sanford by Mr. A. C.
Foster of the Bureau of Plant Industry, U. S. Depart-
ment of Agriculture, cooperating with the Florida
Agricultural Experiment Station, show that three
tons of fertilizer analyzing 6% ammonia, 2% phos-
phoric acid and 8% potassium has given consider-
ably and consistently higher yields per acre than
any other combination. Since soil types through-
out the State upon which celery is grown vary so
widely, it is doubtful if this formula would apply
elsewhere. It does, however, indicate quite clearly
that in many trucking practices neither the most
economical amounts nor the best combinations are
being used. More exact experimental data collected
over a series of years is much needed for most of our
In order to use economically such quantities of
commercial plant food it is, of course, necessary to
maintain a high organic matter or humus content.
Until now no special effort has been made to do this.
The common practice is to follow the celery crop
with corn as a scavenger to use the plant food that
would otherwise be lost through the tile drains, and
yields ranging from 35 to 80 bushels of corn are
made with very little expense aside from planting.
Crab and other native grass is allowed to grow up in
the corn and this, with the corn stalks, is plowed
under. This is the only source of humus that some
of these celery fields have had and they have been

producing excellent yields over a period of 12 to 15
years continuous cropping. Ben Whitner, Jr., for-
mer County Agent in Seminole County, relates that
a few growers have tried the growing of velvet beans
in the corn with very satisfying results and that he
believes that this will become a more general prac-
tice as its virtues become better known.

There has been quite an evolution in the methods
of blanching the celery in Florida. Until five years
ago, cypress boards /2"x12" and of varying lengths
were used. These were cumbersome to handle, re-
quired considerable space to store and were expen-
sive. Now it is impossible to find the boards in the
Sanford section and rarely in any other for a
specially reinforced paper 10" wide made for the
purpose is used. The rolls are put on a windlass and
quickly put down a row, or as easily wound up when
the blanching is complete. The paper is held on
edge close to the stalks by means of inverted
U-shaped wires pushed into the ground. Blanching
usually is complete in three weeks after the paper
is applied. There are a few growers who think that
the board-blanched celery is superior to that
blanched with the paper, but certainly any advan-
tage that the boards may have in this respect is
over-balanced by the ease with which the paper may
be handled.
Most of the celery is stripped and packed in the
field. For the past few years about 10 % of the total
output from Sanford has been precooled and
washed. One plant is equipped to do this after the
celery is packed, while a few small concerns wash
and precool simultaneously prior to packing. The
presence of the leaf-tyer last year made it impera-

tive that all the latter season stuff be washed, and
many ingenious devices were developed for the pur-
pose. One of considerable merit consisted of an
endless belt made of iron-mesh wire which revolved
through a tunnel some thirty feet long. The celery
was spread upon this belt and as it passed slowly
through the tunnel water under high pressure was
sprayed upon the celery at all angles. In the last
few feet of the tunnel ice water was used, which
acted as the pre-cooling agent.
Harvesting begins in January and extends into
May, maximum shipments coming in March. In that
month in 1925 there were but 361 cars from com-
peting states put on the market at that time, while
2,125 cars moved from Florida.
There are three cooperative marketing growers
associations in Seminole County as well as a num-
ber of independent concerns, and most of the crop
from this county is marketed through these agencies.
Cars are iced at Sanford where one of the largest
ice manufacturing and loading stations in the world
is in operation.
Late blight, black heart, and pink rot, are the
chief diseases, aside from the early blight already
mentioned. Late blight affects the plants only in the
cooler part of the season or during December and
January. It is effectively controlled by use of the
4-4-50 Bordeaux as for early blight. Black-heart
has been shown to be a physiological trouble which
develops with an irregular water supply. Over-
mature celery develops the trouble most readily
where the water supply is not constant. Pink rot
is one of the most difficult diseases to control since
the organism causing the disease is a sclerotia which
lives in the soil and becomes especially destructive
when the normal ventilation is cut off during the
blanching process. Considerable loss in transit is
the direct result of this disease.

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