Summary of Florida Corn Production
Florida growers produce sweet and field corns throughout many areas of the state. Sweet corn is grown mostly for fresh market. It is a >$100 million industry annually with the majority of production (in excess of 30,000 acres) in south Florida (see Sweet Corn Production Map). The north central area of the state historically produced over 9,000 acres annually, but the majority of this has moved elsewhere (e.g., Georgia) as a result of the State's buy out of agricultural land north of Lake Apopka. A strong sweet corn breeding program maintained by the University of Florida since the late 1940's has provided the genetic background for many of the sweet corn varieties grown in Florida. In south Florida, sweet corn is grown September through May, often with the Everglades area out of production during part of December and January. Production proceeds into central and northern areas with the increased temperatures of spring and summer. Sweet corn grown in the state matures in roughly 75 to 90 d.
Field corn production occurs mostly in central and north Florida in Districts 10, 30 and 50 (see Field Corn Production Map). This corn is used mostly for silage and grain. Acreage increased by a third in 1998 over 1997, raising to 160,000 acres. Continued increases are forecast to meet local beef and dairy industry demands for animal feed. New breeding programs by University of Florida scientists are working to support these demands by developing new larger varieties tailored to resist Florida's disease and insect pests. Corn for grain and silage is grown during spring and summer. Varieties grown in Florida mature in an average of 120 d.
Insect pests can cause considerable losses to both sweet and field corns in Florida. Several moth species are serious year round pests whose control requires substantial economic input in the form of pesticide applications. Commercial alternatives to pesticide control emerged in 1998 in the form of sweet corn varieties resistant to army- and ear- worm feeding. Dependence on pesticides to produce good yields of sweet corn will decrease as current and future additional modes of insect resistance become available and are adopted by growers. Current insect-resistant germplasm targets one group of insects, namely, Lepidoptera.
Major pests of Florida corn include the fall armyworm (FAW), Spodoptera frugiperda, corn earworm (CEW), Helicoverpa zea, corn silk fly (CSF), Euxesta stigmatia, lesser cornstalk borer (LCB), Elasmopalpus lignosellus, and several species of wireworms. FAW is the primary pest of corn in Florida, but CEW is an important pest in central and north Florida. South Florida is thought to be the source of spring northerly migrations of FAW that effect corn growing regions to the north. CSF is a major late season pest in southern Florida, and can completely ruin a crop if not treated. Its eggs, larvae, and pupae are safe from treatments within the developing ears. LCB can be a serious pest, particularly when corn is planted in weedy fields or in those rotating out of beans, peanuts or sugarcane.
Minor pests include stink bugs, picnic or sap beetles, aphids, other species of armyworms, banded cucumber beetles (Diabrotica balteata), and cutworms. European corn borer and whitefringed beetles can also cause serious losses in localized areas, particularly in the panhandle (west) and north areas. Although these insects often fall into the category of minor pests in Florida, elevated populations can cause considerable damage. For a complete listing of Florida corn insect pests, see the Biocapsule List .
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