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Publication #HS-856

Eggplant Production in Miami-Dade County, Florida1

Y.C. Li, W. Klassen, M. Lamberts and T. Olczyk2


Eggplant, a traditional vegetable crop in Miami-Dade County, is grown annually on 100 to 300 acres, and sold nationwide during the winter in the fresh market. Yields normally are more than 900 33-pound bushels/acre. The production cost may exceed $7.5 per bushel or $10,503/acre for an acceptable yield of 1,400 bushels/acre.


Refer to the Vegetable Production Guide for Florida (SP170) for variety selection. The major varieties currently grown in the Miami-Dade County are Classic and Megal. The cultivar Thai is gown for the local ethnic market.

Soils, Land Preparation and Transplanting

Since the fruit of eggplant is easily scratched and scarred by the action of strong winds, growers prefer fields partially surrounded by trees. Sugarcane can be planted to make an effective windbreak.

Eggplant in Miami-Dade County is grown on gravelly soils and occasionally on marl soils. Usually eggplant grows better on raised beds with plastic mulch than on flat fields. Some specialty varieties are grown on beds without plastic.

Typically eggplant beds are 36-40 inches wide, 6-8 inches high and spaced 6 ft between the centers of adjacent beds. Preplant fertilizer should be applied in two parallel bands, each about 9 inches from the center of the bed, and incorporated into the soil by rototilling to a depth of 4 to 6 inches. After rototilling, the bed must be re-formed. The bed should be irrigated one day before the application of a fumigant. During the fumigation operation either one or two drip irrigation tubings, 12 to 14 inches apart, are installed in the surface layer, and the bed is immediately covered with plastic mulch.

To allow sufficient time for the fumigant to dissipate completely, eggplant seedlings should not be transplanted into the fumigated bed until at least one week after application of the fumigant.

The main transplanting season extends from September or October through January. Seedlings should be spaced 18-30 inches apart, and set 2-3 inches deep either in a single row or in a "double row" ( two rows per bed with 10 to 15 inches between these rows). Eggplant does not need to be pruned, but the plants need to be held upright with twine attached to stakes. Each stake is a rod of rebar driven into the limestone bedrock with a 3-pound hammer or with an air-hammer.


Calibrated soil tests for the calcareous soils of Miami-Dade County are not available at present. Therefore, tissue analysis is recommended for determining the composition and rates of fertilizers to be applied. Instructions for tissue sample collection, preparation and submission are provided in Plant Tissue Information Sheet (SL-131), which is available from the County office of the Cooperative Extension Service. Information on plant tissue analysis for eggplant is provided in the Vegetable Production Guide for Florida (SP170). The total amount of fertilizer required in Miami-Dade County depends on the variety, soil fertility, and other environmental factors. Less inorganic fertilizer can be applied if a cover crops or soil organic amendment (compost, biosolids, manure) has been applied. Preplanting fertilizer formulas of 6-6-6, 6-3-6, 10-10-10, or similar formulas are satisfactory. All of the P fertilizer and less than one-half of N and K fertilizer should be applied to the beds prior to planting. Fertigation should be initiated with a 4-0-8 or similar formula 4-5 weeks after transplanting to provide the remaining fertilizer. The beds should be fertigated once or twice per week with daily rates ranging from 0.5 lb N to 2.5 lb N/acre (refer to the Vegetable Production Guide for Florida). Magnesium nitrate or sulfate and EDDHA-chelated iron should be applied if deficiency symptoms appear.

Irrigation and Freeze Protection

Drip irrigation systems are used for eggplant production in Miami-Dade County. Generally one drip irrigation tubing per bed provides adequate water for plants, although a second is beneficial especially while the plants' root systems are small. Water requirements for young plants are very low. Irrigation frequencies of once or twice per week suffice for most plastic mulched young plants until 5 weeks after transplanting. A tensiometer installed at a 6-inch depth can be used for irrigation scheduling. Optimal plant growth and yields are achieved when the soil moisture is maintained at tensiometer readings between 10 to 15 cbars. The Miami-Dade County Cooperative Extension Service provides relevant information and calibrates tensiometers.

Eggplant sustains chilling injury when temperatures drop to 30 °F. Therefore, growers in Miami-Dade County arrange for freeze protection of eggplant from the beginning of December through February. A high volume solid-set irrigation system with a water delivery rate of 0.25 inch per hour should be used.

Insect Management

Refer to the Vegetable Production Guide for Florida (SP170) for extensive information on insect control. Spidermites, two-spotted and red, plus broad mites and leafminers are serious pests on young plants. The most dangerous pest of eggplant is the melon thrips. However the melon thrips can be effectively controlled with timely applications of Spinosad formulations, such as SpinTor SC. The remaining pests tend not to cause major losses.

Disease Management

Refer to the Vegetable Production Guide for Florida (SP170). Major diseases include alternaria, phomopsis, phytophora root rot, white mold, and southern blight.

Weed Management

Refer to the Vegetable Production Guide for Florida (SP170).


Most eggplant is harvested from October through April, although some is harvested year-round. The fruit is picked by hand. Most of the eggplants produced in Miami Dade County are shipped to other states.

Multiple Cropping/Rotation

Eggplant can be rotated with tomato, cucumber, okra, watermelon, squash cucumber, watermelon, cantaloupe, specialty vegetables, and herbs. Often these relay crops are seeded or transplanted into existing beds. Crop rotation is dependent on good field sanitation to suppress pathogens and insects. There is risk in rotating eggplant with cucurbits because of Phytophthora blight. This disease is caused by Phytophthora capsici, which develops explosively in moist conditions and produces large numbers of infective sporangia. The disease is very damaging and difficult to control.



This document is HS-856, one of a series of the Horticultural Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Revised: April 2006. Reviewed July 2009 and September 2013. Please visit the EDIS website at This document is written specifically for growers in Miami-Dade County as a supplement to Vegetable Production Guide for Florida (SP170) ( We thank many growers and representatives from seed and chemical companies and grower services for reviewing the document.


Y. C. Li, professor, Tropical Research and Education Center, Homestead, FL; W. Klassen, professor emeritus, Tropical Research and Education Center, Homestead, FL., Mary Lamberts, Extension agent IV, Miami-Dade County Extension, Teresa Olczyk, Extension agent IV, Miami-Dade County Extension, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.