This document describes the common forage and row crops grown in Florida, the season of year they are grown, and the part of the state they are most adapted to.
In choosing the genus, species, or variety of crop to be grown, the following seven characteristics should be kept in mind: (1) growth cycle; (2) growing season; (3) adaptation to soils and climate; (4) uses of the crops; (5) yield and quality of the harvested product; (6) resistance to insects, diseases, and nematodes; and (7) market acceptability of the variety.
New or unfamiliar species and/or varieties should not be planted on large acreages until they have been evaluated and performed satisfactorily for a number of years on relatively small areas on a particular farm. Even if a particular species or variety has performed well in experimental or other trials, a grower should be familiar with the characteristics and particular cultural requirements of the species or variety before large acreages are planted. Many crops have been genetically transformed to include herbicide or insecticide traits or combinations with as many as 5–7 stacked traits in one plant. Parent lines may have been widely grown but new gene insertions can result in different performance. Often, new varieties of row crops are released with no more than 1 or 2 years of testing, and there isn’t sufficient data on how these will do under different climatic conditions.
The potential for an introduced species or variety to become a noxious, invasive, or otherwise undesirable plant should be considered before the initial planting. Check to be sure that any plant selected is not on the invasive or noxious weed lists, which may prohibit planting or propagation. Some desirable plants may become difficult to control in other crops. For example, crotalaria and hairy indigo were introduced into Florida as green-manure crops, but soon became major pests in other crops. Some grasses such as cogongrass may root so deep that they are difficult to control or eradicate. Some plant species may harbor diseases, nematodes, or insects that negatively impact other crops. Several of the species listed in Table 1 could be undesirable in many situations if proper precautions are not followed.
The field and forage crops that could be grown in Florida are described in Table 1 University of Georgia and Auburn have state wide variety test reports that come out yearly to see how forage and row crops do over a wide area of the Southeast (http://www.swvt.uga.edu/; http://www.aces.edu/anr/crops/varietytesting/).
Growth characteristics and adaptations of field and forage crops grown in Florida.