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Mary Lamberts, Carlos Balerdi, and Karen Eskelin

Producers of perishable commodities periodically experience natural disasters. Growers in Dade County, Fla., have suffered losses from hurricanes, freezes, and floods. Public agencies and grower groups are often asked to provide immediate estimates of loss to both official sources and the news media. Following the Jan. 1997 freeze, a method was developed to provide this information within 1 day of the disaster. This has also been used to estimate job losses for agricultural workers.

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Mary Lamberts*, Eugene McAvoy, Teresa Olczyk, and Phyllis Gilreath

U.S. agricultural producers are required to provide varying amounts of safety training to their employees depending on the nature of their operation(s). Hand washing is an integral part of several types of safety training including pesticide safety education, the Worker Protection Standard and Microbial Food Safety of Fruits and Vegetables. Generally instructions are to “wash thoroughly,” though some employees are told they should wash for 20 seconds. An easy way to get growers to “buy into” methods that verify hand washing is to include such demonstrations as part of pesticide safety education programs and workshops that grant Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for the renewal of pesticide applicator licenses. It is important that the demonstrations be highly visual so participants actually experience the difficulty in removing a contaminant from hands even though they have performed “thorough” hand washing. It also allows them to observe the ease of cross contamination from soiled hands. Once growers see how easy and inexpensive it is to do this type of training, they are being encouraged to use these demonstrations with various types of employees: mixer-loaders and other handlers, harvesting crews, packinghouse employees, and even field workers who routinely handle plants and may be spreading diseases. Details on different methods of training and grower reactions will be presented.

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Mary Lamberts, Carlos F. Balerdi, and O. Norman Nesheim

The Dade County Extension Service has conducted three types of training classes related to the new Federal Worker Protection Standard (WPS): Train-the-Trainer sessions, WPS Worker Training, and WPS Handler Training. All of these must follow rigid course outlines to comply with requirements of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. At the end of training classes, growers and other audience members are often confused as to how this Standard actually affects their operation. The discussion will describe: a) materials and supplemental training classes developed by extension agents to help growers comply; b) operational changes that local growers have made as a result of this new law; c) the effects of this Standard on field visits and demonstration-research projects; and d) interactions between agents and non-traditional clientele groups.

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Mary Lamberts, Donald Pybas, Carlos Balerdi, Joseph Garofalo, and Charles LaPradd

The University of Florida Miami-Dade County Extension, as a member of the USDA's County Emergency Board, is required to assess damage to commercial horticultural crops (tropical fruit, ornamentals, and vegetables) immediately following natural disasters. While trying to determine dollar values following a freeze in Jan. 1997, Extension and the Farm Service Agency (FSA) developed a spreadsheet that lists all the major crops by commodity along with average yield per acre and price based on how the crop is sold. Acreage is another component, as is the percentage of each crop that was “lost” during the disaster in question. These components are multiplied to give a dollar value of the loss for each individual crops and are totaled to give losses for the major commodities in Miami-Dade. While acreage is relatively stable for ornamental and tree fruit crops, it fluctuates considerably for vegetables, depending on the time of year. Within roughly 24 h of a disaster, the committee assesses actual damage to different crops by conducting a windshield survey of the local growing area. This allows staff to calculate the percentage of damage experienced by each sector and current acreage. Then, acreage and crop loss figures are plugged into the equation and dollar values are generated. Crop loss can also be translated into lost jobs, which can assist migrant service providers with funding requests. This presentation will review the different types of damage experienced during hurricanes Katrina and Wilma in 2005 and their effects on the local economy. Katrina caused extensive flooding, with some structural damage, while damage from Wilma was primarily due to high winds and micro-bursts.

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Mary Lamberts, Stephen K. O'Hair, George Hochmuth, and Edward Hanlon

Seventy-five percent (75%) of U.S. produced winter snap beans are grown on limestone soils in southern Dade County, Florida Since this crop requires 60-70 days from planting to harvest, growers need information to make changes in fertilizer practices on an almost instantaneous basis. As part of a study to calibrate soil tests with yield responses to different levels of applied fertilizers, plant sap quick tests are being calibrated with laboratory analyses of whole leaf samples. Beans were grown at two locations -- in a grower's field and at the University of Florida Tropical Research & Education Center (TREC). Samples were taken simultaneously for both plant sap quick tests using petioles and for whole leaf tissue analyses. Results and how these have been extended to local growers will be presented.

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Mary Lamberts, Stephen K. O'Hair, Juan Carranza, George Hochmuth, and Edward Hanlon

Trials to determine crop nutrients for four vegetable crops grown on the limestone soils of Dade County, Fla., have been conducted in growers' fields to duplicate commercial growing conditions. This has increased grower participation in the experimental process. The four vegetable crops are snap beans, Irish potatoes, sweet corn, and malanga (a.k.a. yautia or tannia, Xanthosoma sagittifolium Schott). The discussion will focus on grower participation in various critical decision-making activities: a) location of plots in a commercial field, b) placement of fertilizers, c) possible problems with Restricted Entry Intervals, d) harvest determinations, and e) grading criteria and quality assessment.

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Charles S. Vavrina, Stephen M. Olson, Phyllis R. Gilreath, and Mary L. Lamberts

`Agriset', `All Star', and `Colonial' tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) transplants set to a depth of the first true leaf and `Cobia' transplants set to a depth of the cotyledon leaves yielded more fruit at first harvest than plants set to the top of the rootball (root–shoot interface). The increase in fruit count was predominantly in the extra-large category. More red fruit at first harvest suggested that deeper planting hastens tomato maturity. The impact of planting depth diminished with successive harvests, indicating the response to be primarily a first-harvest phenomenon in tomato.

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Mary Lamberts, Teresa Olczyk, Stephen K. O'Hair, Juan Carranza, Herbert H. Bryan, Edward Hanlon, and George Hochmuth

A baseline survey was conducted to determine grower fertilizer management practices for five vegetable crops: beans, malanga, potatoes, sweet corn, and squash. This was done in conjunction with a 3-year replicated fertility trial with four vegetable crops (1993–94 through 1995–96) in the Homestead area. Questions included: fertilizer rates and timing, source(s) of fertilizer recommendations, soil and tissue testing, irrigation, changes in practices, summer cover crops, rock plowing, spacing, and type of fertilizer used. Survey results will be presented.

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Mary Lamberts, Teresa Olczyk, Phyllis Gilreath, Gene McAvoy, Alicia Whidden, Darrin Parmenter, Ed Skvarch, Yuncong Li, Christine Coffin, and Donald Pybas

Florida, like other states, is developing BMPs for specific commodities. Vegetables are in a statewide document that includes field crops. Vegetable advisory committee members from the counties in southern Florida were concerned that the existing document was too broad in its scope and that many practices did not apply to production on sandy or calcareous soils. Based on grower comments, extension agents organized grower meetings to address these issues. The first meeting was a presentation by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Office of Agricultural Water Policy. The second meeting in Miami–Dade was a hands-on session, where growers and industry were divided into three areas—nutrition, pesticides, and water quality. Each group was facilitated by a faculty member or the NRCS conservationist. Other counties used newsletters and other methods to receive grower feedback. Participant comments were compiled and forwarded to FDACS, where they are being incorporated into a greatly revised document. Concerns will be presented.

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Mary Lamberts, Teresa Olczyk, Stephen K. O'Hair, Juan Carranza, Herbert H. Bryan, George Hochmuth, and Edward Hanlon

Replicated fertility trials with four vegetable crops on the limestone soils of Dade County, Fla., have been conducted for 3 years (1993–94 through 1995–96). The purpose was 1) to determine crop nutrient requirements, 2) to calibrate a soil testing model, and 3) to develop additional information for plant sap quick tests. The crops included snap beans, Irish potatoes, sweet corn, and malanga (a.k.a. yautia or tannia, Xanthosoma sagittifolium Schott). Another two field demonstrations using reduced rates of phosphorus on tomatoes were conducted in 1995–96. The involvement of the local fertilizer industry in these trials and grower outreach efforts will be discussed.