With more than 300 commodities produced on more than 9.5 million acres of land across the state, Florida agriculture can best be described in one word – diverse.
The state’s 47,740 farms produce a wide variety of high-quality, safe and abundant foods, representing a $8.26 billion industry. In fact, Florida ranks first nationally for 11 commodities, including oranges, grapefruit, fresh-market snap beans, cucumbers for pickles, cucumbers for the fresh market, squash, sweet corn, fresh-market tomatoes, sugarcane for sugar and seed, and watermelons. Florida ranks second for bell peppers, strawberries and tangerines.
The state is also the second-largest producer of floriculture crops and ranks first for indoor foliage plant sales. Indoor foliage includes plants such as ivy, pothos, ficus and more.
Part of this success is based on the state’s unique growing conditions. While much of the country is covered in snow, Florida crops thrive.
Most of Florida’s fresh-market food crops are harvested from October to June, almost exactly opposite of other U.S. states. For example, at certain times of the year, nearly every fresh-market, field-grown tomato sold in U.S. grocery stores was grown in Florida.
Other Florida agriculture products make a year-round impact on the state’s economy. The state is home to a thriving livestock industry, including beef cattle, dairy cattle and poultry.
Greenhouse and nursery definitely sees a boost during the early spring months, but certain flowers and plants grow better in Florida’s summers, extending the season for that important segment of the industry.
Seafood and shellfish are important to the state year-round, as are forestry and timber products.
With all segments of the industry combined, agriculture employs more than 2 million people and contributes more than $100 billion to the state’s economy each year, making it continually essential to Florida.