Explore the prospect of artichokes as an up-and-coming alternative Florida crop.
Florida is one of the leading states for agriculture in the U.S., as the sunshine and warm temperatures that earned the nickname ‘The Sunshine State’ are what most crops are looking for. Most crops. Until now, the delicious and nutritious artichoke has not fared well in Florida, mainly due to the artichoke’s need for ‘chill hours,’ or a certain number of hours of cold weather in order to bloom and grow the edible flowers. However, one University of Florida professor believes he has the key to bringing this lucrative crop to Florida as the next alternative crop. Read the details of his research, and the attractions of artichokes as an alternative Florida crop, below.
Benefits of Artichokes as a Florida Crop
Florida farmers would benefit greatly if artichokes were a viable alternative crop in The Sunshine State for many reasons. First, it’s a crop that is in-demand. Artichokes are part of the current food trend focusing on nutritionally dense foods, and artichokes fit the bill. According to the California Artichoke Advisory Board, artichokes are low in calories, fat, and cholesterol, and high in vitamins, nutrients, and fiber. The artichoke also has a pleasing flavor and texture, making it a sought-after crop by high-end restaurants and gourmands.
Because of their high demand, artichokes are a high-dollar crop. According to a Growing Produce article about the artichoke’s viability as an alternative Florida crop, artichokes can sell for $5 a piece at retail. Furthermore, there is little competition for growing artichokes in the East. The Growing Produce article cites California as the source of 99 percent of the nation’s artichoke crop. Every Florida artichoke farm would likely benefit from being able to take over supply markets on and near the East Coast due to lower shipping costs.
Artichoke Research Details
The latest research on artichokes in Florida was completed by Shinsuke Agehara, an Assistant Professor of Horticultural Sciences with UF’s Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences (UF/IFAS). Agehara believes the artichoke’s need for chill hours—between 250 and 500 hours below 50 degrees—can be overcome with the application of a natural plant hormone called gibberellic acid.
The hormone is used to maximize growth, and the article states that it will allow those in Florida who are growing artichokes to harvest 6,000 pounds of artichokes an acre. By contrast, California growers can raise 13,500 pounds per acre. Agehara believes production can be increased in Florida with the perfection of the application of gibberellic acid.
AgAmerica Lending supports the nation’s vegetable growers with our custom vegetable farm loans. If you’d like to discuss your options for vegetable farm loans in general, or artichokes as a Florida crop in particular, contact us today to speak with a knowledgeable team member.