$12.5 million into local agFarm Credit of Florida, a borrower-owned lending cooperative, distributed a record $12.5 million in cash patronage to qualified member borrowers, Greg Cunningham, chief executive officer, announced.

Based on substantial earnings and capital position, Farm Credit of Florida’s board of directors approved the patronage distribution based on 2018 net income. The amount of $12.5 million patronage effectively reduces interest paid by member borrowers.

The 2019 patronage return is a direct result of strong income for the year 2018. The amount of patronage distributed in 2019 exceeds the 2018 distribution of $11.5 million cash back to member borrowers.

Farm Credit of Florida is a member-owned agricultural lending cooperative and a member of the nationwide Farm Credit System. Farm Credit of Florida provides loans, leases and crop insurance to farmers, ranchers, growers and rural homeowners. It 13 Florida offices, including Arcadia.

FarmCreditFl.com

Florida citrus powering through recoveryFlorida citrus growers a year ago couldn’t wait for the season to be over. USDA forecasters were estimating a historically low crop output for a campaign marred by post-Hurricane Irma stress and the ongoing grind of greening. Fast forward to today, and the outlook is markedly brighter in comparison despite a slight drop in the latest, recently released Florida citrus crop estimate from the government agency.

The April numbers came in at 76.5 million boxes of oranges (30.5 million boxes of early, mid-season, and Navel varieties, 46 million Valencia). The figure includes a 500,000-box deduction in non-Valencia varieties. The reduced overall tally is only the second since the season’s first report was released in October at a somewhat surprising 79 million boxes.

“We’re an industry catching glimpses of recovery, but this estimate certainly points out that we are not there yet,” said Shannon Shepp, executive director for the Florida Department of Citrus. “It’s still a great year, but we are anxious for better.”

The grapefruit tally also was squeezed another 500,000 boxes, lowering it 9 percent from last month and now stands at 4.9 million boxes total. Nearly 20 years ago, Florida orange and grapefruit harvests were setting records with 244 million boxes and 49.5 million boxes respectively.

The next USDA crop estimate is scheduled for May 10. The season will wrap up with a final report in July.

Paul Rusnak is the senior managing online editor for Florida Grower, American Vegetable Grower, American Fruit Grower and Greenhouse Grower magazines.

John Deere revs up new techJohn Deere took a pre-growing- season opportunity to provide select ag media, including Meister Media Worldwide, a comprehensive update on the many precision agriculture and digital farming technologies that the 182-year-old company has brought to market over the past several years.

Deere was fresh off a high-profile presence at the Consumer Electronics Show, where it had sought with considerable success to step outside of its usual industry boundaries, transform consumer perceptions of Deere and the sophistication of ag generally, and heighten conversations with high-tech talent outside of agriculture, especially as it looks to scale its Blue River Technology business and the “See & Spray” technology the company acquired.

Soon after, at the John Deere Training Center just east of Orlando, the company’s Integrated Solutions Group (ISG) touted interconnected use of AutoTrac guidance, increased levels of equipment precision, “walk-up-easy” automation, and consistent and comfortable operator experience across four major operational areas: field prep, plant/place, apply, and harvest.

Deere training personnel noted that each machine on display was loaded with:

JDLink Connect, enabling operators to see information about their machines online and move data to and from their machines.

Ready access to John Deere’s Operations Center.

Gen4 CommandCenter displays with “premium activation”—allowing operators to purchase related applications in an activation bundle, use section control for application, share in-field data among multiple machines running in the same field at the same time to better coordinate fleet usage, and stream data to the Operations Center every 30 seconds.

Connect Mobile in each cab—to monitor, analyze, and maximize the performance of each machine. Mobile data transfer and adjustments can be made remotely and with mobile devices. And underpinning it all is a Deere mantra that “every pass matters”—for optimization and for data gathering—and a continuous data-informed circle of: plan, do, do better.

Like its equipment, John Deere as a company keeps pushing ahead. Its new future-looking “Farm Forward 2.0” video, which Dawson described as aspirational as well as informational, builds on ideas originally laid out in 2012, some of which already have come to pass. Deere’s lens on the future sees farmers and the “ecosystem” of their trusted advisers not being replaced but instead augmented by a real-time swirl of integrated implements and insights, data visualization, and touch-screen ease to increase efficiency and optimize outcomes. The company also makes a clear distinction between automation and autonomy in farm equipment. “It’s easy to get distracted by the current push to autonomy,” Dawson said. “Autonomy will happen at some point. But right now we’re focused on automating the job.”

James C. Sulecki is chief content officer and Head of Global Precision Initiative for Meister Media Worldwide.

Show your team how vital they arePeter J. Pronovost, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Clinical Transformation Officer at University Hospital, recently spoke to the City Club in Cleveland, Ohio, about how to improve patient care. He believes quality care comes only when everyone—and he means everyone—works together for that common goal.

As an example, he mentioned a janitor. When he met her, he asked what she did at the hospital.

“I’m just a cleaner,” she told him.

He told her she was much more. She was reducing the chances of diseases spreading. Cleaning, in a hospital, is as important to health as is performing surgery. He also mentioned how a cancer patient experiences treatment. She moves through many different departments, doctors, and treatments. Each of those entities has its own set of rules and processes.

If the hospital wants to give world-class care, then everyone needs to share the goal of caring for patients. If that’s the case, then everyone fines a way to smooth the patient’s path as she navigates from radiology, to pathology, to billing. That includes clerks, physicians, and, yes, the janitors.

So take a second look at how your operation runs. It’s worth assessing if the culture in each group within your farm truly works toward the end result you want.

Carol Miller is the editor for American Vegetable Grower.

Tomato production levels fallingSince 2009, tomato production (as measured by hundredweight cwt) fell 38 percent, according to data from USDA. To see what this looked like on at ground level, we compared how the top seven fresh-market-tomato states’ production levels compare to the national levels. Overall, numbers are falling sharply.

That’s due to a number of reasons, but experts at USDA, University of Florida, and other institutions identify two main causes: increased imports, primarily from Mexico, and more indoor-grown tomatoes here in the states. Our article, “Consumption is Up, Production Is Down: Understand How Fresh Tomato Trends Affect You,” delves more deeply into the issue.

A couple things to note in the infographic below:

1. California and Florida are the top two fresh market tomato states, by far. How those two states performed had a big impact on national statistics.

2. Some states show a zero in 2016 or 2017. Actually, these states levels dropped to a point that all data came from only a handful of growers. Sharing the production data would equal sharing individual farms’ data. So USDA withheld that data.

Carol Miller

Yummy stuff: Florida blueberry cheesecakeIngredients

1 whole cheesecake (homemade or store bought)

4 pints Florida blueberries, rinsed

1 cup natural Florida sugar

½ lemon, juiced

1 cup water

Fresh mint sprigs for garnish

Prep

In a small sauce pot combine 2 pints blueberries, sugar, lemon juice, and water. Place sauce pot over medium high heat. Stir contents of pot as it comes to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Cook blueberry mixture for 20 minutes or until it coats the back of a spoon. Strain blueberry sauce through a sieve if desired. Let blueberry sauce cool to room temperature, and store in the refrigerator until needed.

Top the cheesecake with some of the cooled blueberry sauce, leaving extra for garnish. Place fresh leftover blueberries on top of the cheesecake and garnish with fresh mint. Serve the blueberry topped cheesecake with extra blueberry sauce.

freshfromflorida.com

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