Florida Water Management Districts

PRESS RELEASE

SWFWMD aims to reduce risk of wildfires by scheduling prescribed fires in eight counties

The Southwest Florida Water Management District has announced the schedule for prescribed fires in the counties of Citrus, DeSoto, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Marion, Polk and Sarasota.

| 7/31/2018

Setting prescribed fires in controlled settings can reduce the risk of wildfires burning out of control, as Floridians witnessed during the state’s wildfire emergency last year. That’s why the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will be conducting prescribed burns in eight counties beginning in August, 2018. Some major benefits of prescribed fire include:

Reducing overgrown plants, which decreases the risk of catastrophic wildfires

Promoting the growth of new, diverse plants

Maintaining the character and condition of wildlife habitat

Maintaining access for public recreation

The District conducts prescribed fires on approximately 30,000 acres each year. Click here to learn more about why igniting prescribed burns now prepares lands for the next wildfire season.

Citrus County

SWFWMD will be conducting prescribed burns in August and September on Potts Preserve and the Two Mile Prairie Connector parcel in Citrus County.

Potts Preserve is located approximately two miles east of the City of Hernando and three and a half miles north-northeast of Inverness. The property is east and southeast of State Road 200 and north of Turner Camp Road and is bordered by the Withlacoochee River on the east. Approximately 600 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

The Two Mile Prairie Connector property is located approximately five miles north-northeast of the City of Hernando and seven miles southeast of Dunnellon. This parcel is located on State Road 200 approximately 350 yards southwest of the Lecanto Highway intersection. Approximately 200 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

Deep Creek Preserve is located in southwest DeSoto County, east of Kings Highway. Approximately 450 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

DeSoto County

SWFWMD will be conducting prescribed burns in August and September at Deep Creek Preserve in DeSoto County.

Deep Creek Preserve is located in southwest DeSoto County, east of Kings Highway. Approximately 450 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

Hernando County

SWFWMD will be conducting prescribed burns in August and September at Annuteliga Hammock and Weekiwachee Preserve in Hernando County.

Annuteliga Hammock is located east of U.S. Highway 19, north of Centralia Road and south of the county line. Approximately 300 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

Weekiwachee Preserve is located west of U.S. Highway 19 between Spring Hill and Hernando Beach. Approximately 100 acres will be burned in small, manageable units. Some trails may be temporarily closed during prescribed burn events.

Hillsborough County

SWFWMD will be conducting prescribed burns in August and September on the Lower Hillsborough Flood Detention Area (LHFDA) and the Chito Branch Reserve in Hillsborough County.

The LHFDA is located south of Cross Creek Boulevard between U.S. Highway 301 and Morris Bridge Road near Thonotosassa. Chito Branch Reserve is located south of Boyette Road west of County Road 39 near Lithia. Approximately 500 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

Manatee County

SWFWMD will be conducting prescribed burns in August and September at the Edward W. Chance Reserve – Gilley Creek Tract (Gilley Creek) and Coker Prairie Tract in Manatee County.

Gilley Creek is located between State Road 62 and 64, east of County Road 675. Coker Prairie is located south of State Road 64. Both properties are southeast of Parrish. Approximately 200 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

Marion County

SWFWMD will be conducting prescribed burns in August and September at Halpata Tastanaki Preserve in Marion County.

Halpata Tastanaki Preserve is located two miles east of Dunnellon and seven miles northeast of the City of Hernando and is bordered by County Road 484 on the north, State Road 200 on the southeast and the Withlacoochee River on the southwest. Approximately 1,000 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

Polk County

SWFWMD will be conducting prescribed burns in August and September on the Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve Hampton Tract in Polk County.

The Hampton Tract is located north of Rock Ridge Road, east of U.S. Highway 98, north of Lakeland. Approximately 2,100 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

Sarasota County

SWFWMD will be conducting prescribed burns in August and September at the Myakka River – Deer Prairie Creek Preserve and the Myakka River – Schewe Tract in Sarasota County.

Deer Prairie Creek Preserve and the Schewe Tract are located west of North Port, east of the Myakka River, north and south of Interstate 75. Approximately 1,300 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

History of the Florida Citrus Industry

Throughout the ages, the fruit of citrus trees has been a symbol of eternal love, happiness, and even holiness. The Japanese believed citrus blossoms represented chastity, while the Saracens believed it was a symbol of fruitfulness. Kings and queens built entire indoor gardens around citrus; Arab women used its essence to color gray hair, and Nostradamus wrote about how to use its blossoms and fruit to make cosmetics. Hercules so valued it, he stole the golden fruit from Hesperides, who protected it as the primary food of the ancient Roman and Greek gods.

The history of citrus stretches farther back into time than what is contained in the story of Florida’s citrus industry. The earliest references to oranges are to be found in ancient Chinese manuscripts and documents, with one such notation appearing in a written record dated about 2200 B.C.

The citron was the first citrus fruit to attract the attention of Europeans, who were seeking trade routes to the Far East and its fabulous wealth. The citron became established in Europe about 310 B.C., and was followed thereafter by the sour orange, the lemon, the sweet orange and, eventually, the pummelo, the earliest version of the grapefruit.

But nowhere on earth, or perhaps even the heavens, has the “golden fruit” held more importance than in Florida, where citrus growing and processing has become a multi-billion dollar industry.

Christopher Columbus brought the first citrus to the New World in 1493. The early Spanish explorers, probably Ponce de Leon, planted the first orange trees around St. Augustine, Florida, sometime between 1513 and 1565. The heritage left behind in citrus was destined to blossom into industries worth billions of dollars.

Grapefruit was a relative latecomer, arriving in Florida in 1806 courtesy of the French Count, Odet Philippe, who planted the first grove of grapefruit near Tampa, Florida, in 1823. Around that time, Florida had established a citrus business in the north, with growers packing the fruit in barrels for boat trips to market.

By the 19th century, citrus trees could be found growing wild throughout many of Florida’s forests, and cultivated orange groves could be found along the St. John’s River and around Tampa. Florida’s unique sandy soil and sub tropical climate were ideal for growing the seeds that early settlers planted. It took nearly 400 years from the time citrus was first introduced to Florida until enough was grown in the state to turn it into a profitable business venture.

Soon after the Civil War, Florida’s annual commercial citrus production totaled one million boxes; it climbed to more than five million boxes by 1893. With the development of improved means of transportation, new markets were opened in the northeastern United States and demand for the refreshing, healthy benefits of Florida citrus started to expand slowly.

The Great Freeze of 1894-95 ruined many of the groves throughout Florida. Production dropped to a mere 147 thousand boxes in 1895. As a result, growers began their gradual move to locations farther south in the state. By 1910, the crops had returned to pre-freeze production levels.

By 1915, production reached 10 million boxes. In 1950, the state’s citrus industry picked its first total citrus crop of 100 million boxes. In 1971, Florida’s citrus growers harvested the first crop to exceed 200 million boxes of fruit.

Although Florida’s citrus industry has encountered more freezing temperatures during the 20th century, the industry has continued to thrive as new groves are planted farther south after each freeze.

Today, there are nearly 4,000 citrus growers cultivating almost 437,000 acres of land in Florida. More than 45,000 other people also work in the citrus industry or in related businesses. The state produces more oranges than any other region of the world, except Brazil, and leads the world in grapefruit production.

All told, the citrus industry generates more than $8.6 billion in economic activity in Florida. As such, the citrus industry plays an important role in the life of every Floridian.

Credit: Florida Citrus Mutual, Lakeland, Florida.

Can hemp replace citrus and other Florida crops?

Playing a bit of catch-up, Florida could be in prime position to cash in on industrial hemp with its unique growing season and markets. The benefits are many for Florida growers potentially gaining access to an alternative crop that’s so high in demand. More from Growing Produce.

Industrial Hemp on8 the Radar for Florida Farmers and Researchers

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The University of Florida Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Fund has given the OK for UF/IFAS researchers to develop hemp management and cropping systems. The move is an important step to test the viability of what could become a valuable alternative crop for the state’s łagriculture producers.

Industrial hemp, a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant, has been cultivated for 10,000 years as a fiber and grain crop.

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