Florida’s recognized signature crop is citrus. The 2017 Census of Agriculture shows 502,886 acres in orchards (known as groves in Florida), second only to California. The bulk of Florida’s orchard acreage includes citrus. Florida had 474,540 total citrus acres – 57 percent of the national total. Breaking down citrus further, the census data show 422,421 orange acres in Florida – 70 percent of the national total. Florida Valencia orange acreage totaled 226,052, 86 percent of the total orange acreage. Florida’s grapefruit total acreage in the 2017 Census of Agriculture was 40,248 – 59 percent of our nation’s total grapefruit acreage.
But Florida agriculture has other significant commodities, including vegetables where Florida ranked fourth among all states in total vegetables harvested acres with 245,375 acres. Most of these acres are grown beginning in the fall under subtropical growing conditions.
In Florida, another significant industry is floriculture and bedding, nursery, propagative materials, sod, food crops grown under glass or other protection, and mushroom crops. The 2017 Census of Agriculture shows that Florida ranked second among all states with value of sales totaling $1 billion, whereas California had $1.07 billion in comparison. Florida ranked first among all states in sod value of sales with sales totaling $184 million.
Florida led the country in sugarcane production in 2017 with 15.8 million tons of sugarcane for sugar, which was 51 percent of our nation’s total.
What about livestock in Florida? There were 21,469 operations with cattle inventory totaling 1.64 million cattle and calves with 882,000 beef cows. Florida’s cattle industry is primarily run as a cow/calf arrangement as weaned calves are shipped north to feed lots. Florida’s goat inventory, especially meat and other goats, showed a total of 61,159 head compared to 52,052 in the 2012 census showing that this is an emerging industry in the state.
We thank all the Florida farm and ranch operators who completed the 2017 Census of Agriculture. Without your help, we would not be able to provide an accurate measurement of the food, feed, and fiber supplies that contribute so greatly to the prosperity of our state and nation.