Cooperative Extension Service 

  Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

Southwest Florida Vegetable Newsletter

Hendry County Cooperative Extension Office
PO Box 68
Labelle, Florida 33975

September/October 1999



October 31-November 2, 1999   Florida State Horticultural Society Annual Meeting
                                                    Indian River Plantation Marriott Resort, Stuart, FL.
                                                    Contact Kathy Murphy at FSHS at 407-673-7595

November 3, 1999                      Q and A for Agricultural Employers and Contractors - 7 PM
                                                   US and Florida Departments of Labor
                                                   Southwest Florida Research and Education Center
                                                   2682 SR 29 N, Immokalee, FL
                                                   For info contact Diane Milford at 954-356-6929 ext 14.

November 18, 1999                    Complying with The Worker Protection Standard - 10 AM - Noon
                                                   Dale Dubberly, Bureau of Compliance
                                                   Southwest Florida Research and Education Center
                                                   2682 SR 29 N, Immokalee, FL
                                                   Contact Sheila Griffith at 863-674-4092

December 9, 1999                      Vegetable Field Day and Growers Meeting  - 10 AM - 3PM
                                                   Southwest Florida Research and Education Center
                                                   2682 SR 29 N, Immokalee, FL
                                                   Contact Sheila Griffith at 863-674-4092

December 15, 1999                    Florida Farm-A-Syst - 1 - 3 PM
                                                   Dr. Patrick Ludgate
                                                   Southwest Florida Research and Education Center
                                                   2682 SR 29 N, Immokalee, FL
                                                   Contact Patrick Ludgate at 941-338-3232

Return to Index
Note from Gene 
Gene McAvoy 
Vegetable Extension Agent II 
Hendry County Extension Office 
PO Box 68 
LaBelle, Florida, 33975 

Hope this finds you all well.  Weather-wise, we have had a rough start to the 1999 - 2000 vegetable season.   August was
marked by extremely hot weather which endured into September.  This was followed by  Tropical Storm Harvey and a period
of  several weeks of heavy rainfall which bought up to twenty inches of precipitation  in as many days.  Fortunately, we were
spared the brunt of Hurricane Irene, which veered east at the last moment.  Even so, Irene  bought tropical storm conditions and
battered crops across southwest Florida tearing up plants and plastic alike.

All these problems will undoubtably reduce crop yields and increase disease control and other costs this season.  Despite these
setbacks, however, vegetable growers have always been a hearty bunch and not easily discouraged by adversity.  Vegetable
growers, and indeed all agricultural producers accept the fact that weather is a natural phenomena and beyond the control of
mere mortals.

While growers are aware of and accept such challenges, what is more difficult to accept and is becoming increasingly more
onerous and more and more difficult for growers to contend with is the ever growing mountain of regulation at the federal, state
and local level.

This myriad of regulation,  in combination with confusing and often misguided environmental and labor legislation now poses a
maze that many growers and other agribusinesses find increasingly difficult to negotiate.

At a recent vegetable growers meeting held in Immokalee,  respondents to a growers survey unanimously indicated that
compliance with environmental and other government regulation were a concern to their business.  They further indicated that
they had seen a substantial increase over the last decade, in the number and complexity of  environmental regulations that affect
their operation.  Of those surveyed, one quarter estimated that they now spend 25% or more of their time dealing with
regulatory issues.  In addition to this group, fully half of the replies indicated that they spend between 6 and 25% of their time on
regulatory issues.

This is incredible and the explosion of regulation affecting agricultural producers shows no sign of abating any time soon.  While
IFAS and the extension service may be able to assist growers in understanding and sorting through this regulatory maze, it is
apparent that the industry cannot continue to prosper under this onslaught.

Growers need to get pro-active to help combat this growing menace to agriculture.  All sectors of the agricultural community
must join forces in communicating and educating the public and politicians alike on the essential role they play in the nation’s
economy.  Growers would be wise to support the lobbying efforts of grower oriented organizations, like the Farm Bureau,
FFVA, and others before they are legislated and regulated into oblivion.

Return to Index
FQPA Fallout Starting to Be Felt
According to the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), EPA was required to review one-third of all pesticide tolerances by
August 3, 1999.  As a part of the FQPA review, EPA announced on August 2 cancellation agreements and risk reduction
strategies for two organophosphate pesticides.  This action will ban the use of methyl parathion (Penncap-M) on all fruits and
many vegetables, and sharply restrict the use of azinphos-methyl (Guthion) on foods common in children’s diets.

For methyl parathion, the canceled uses represent approximately 90% of the theoretical dietary risk to children.  Eliminating
these crop uses hypothetically brings the estimated dietary risk down to approximately 78% of the reference dose, making the
risk for food “acceptable” for children and all others in the U.S. population.  The methyl parathion uses that were canceled
include all fruits (apples, peaches, pears, grapes, nectarines, cherries, and plums), carrots, succulent peas, succulent beans,
tomatoes, artichokes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, celery, collards, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard greens,
rutabagas, spinach, and turnips.  Canceled non-food uses are ornamentals, grasses grown for seed, the mosquito use, and
nursery stock.  Uses remaining on the methyl parathion label are alfalfa, almonds, barley, cabbage, corn, cotton, dried beans,
dried peas, grass, hops, lentils, oats, onions, pecans, rape seed, rice, rye, soybeans, sugar beets, sunflower, sweet potatoes,
walnuts, wheat, and white potatoes.

For azinphos-methyl, a summary of the risk reduction measures now in place includes a reduction of use on pome fruits (apples
pears, quinces and crabapples).  Also, a maximum seasonal use rate is now established, and there is an increase in the time
between the last application and harvest (now extended to 21 days).  Tolerances for pome fruit have been lowered from 2.0
ppm to 1.5 ppm now and to 1.0 ppm in 2001.  Canceled is the use on cotton east of the Mississippi River and all sugarcane
use.  EPA cited these uses as major factors contributing to drinking water exposure.  Other canceled uses for azinphosmethyl
include ornamentals, Christmas tree, forest tree, and shade tree uses.  A cap was also put on production of the product in the
U.S.  The cap is intended to prevent users from shifting to azinphos-methyl because of other actions, such as the cancellation of
many methyl parathion uses.  To reduce worker exposure, the length of time that workers must wait before entering a
treated field or orchard is increased.  All applications with hand-held equipment are prohibited.  Closed mixing/loading systems
and enclosed cabs are now required when using azinphos-methyl.

As part of the cancellation agreement, the four manufacturers of these two pesticides have agreed to buy them back from end
users, so users will not be burdened with the cost of disposal of unused pesticides.

These announcements put EPA between a rock and a hard place.  Following FQPA’s enactment, EPA had the task of
translating a broad mandate into specific actions that were almost certain to displease someone if not everyone.  In 1997, EPA
put 39 organophosphates at the top of a priority list of pesticides to be examined.  Environmentalists and the Consumers Union
expected that EPA would decide the future of the organophosphates by August 3, 1999.  When the Agency announced
restrictions on only two, they accused EPA of caving in to agricultural interests and filed suit to compel EPA to comply with
their interpretation of the review schedule set by Congress.  Conversely, the pesticide industry warned that the decision,
however modest, was merely the first step in a process that would strip Americans of vital pest-fighting weapons and leave them
at a competitive disadvantage against foreign growers.  Industry and agricultural groups also sued EPA, requesting that EPA be
required to engage in rulemaking on policies affecting chemical risk assessments before making any similar decisions.

Lawmakers, from both parties, openly criticized the Clinton administration for further restricting these two pesticides.  At a
Houe Agriculture Committee subcommittee hearing, lawmakers accused the EPA of bowing to political pressure, rather than
making decisions on the basis of scientific evidence and the principles laid out by Vice President Gore in 1998.  They said that
EPA’s decision bypasses full development of the science policies and is a bad precedent for future Agency actions

Are EPA’s actions based on political science or sound science?  This question will continue to arise as EPA makes regulatory
decisions.  The methyl parathion and azinphos-methyl decision may improve the safety of America’s food supply, especially for
children; but it is another round in a long, politically charged regulatory struggle.  EPA’s best hope is to be meticulous in their
science.  It was interesting when announcing this decision, EPA made the assurance that the U.S. food supply is safe, and
encouraged parents to continue feeding children fruits and vegetables, indicating “the benefits of a diet that includes fruits and
vegetables far outweigh the risks of pesticides.”

Reuters;  July 30, August 3 & 4, 1999
New York Times;  August 9, 1999
Toledo Blade;  August 8, 1999 via Agnet
San Francisco Chronicle;  August 13, 1999 via Agnet
Chemically Speaking,
September 1999
Return to Index
Early Findings Indicate
 Watermelon Contains 
 High Amounts of the 
Cancer-Fighting Agent Lycopene
Juicy red slices of watermelon are more than just appetizing—their color contains lycopene, a biochemical powerhouse that
helps the body fight cancer and prevent the onset of disease.

Early findings from scientist with the U. S. Department of Agriculture indicate marketable watermelons contain large amounts of
lycopene, a caroteniod that creates the rich, red color within the melon, Lycopene also is found in tomatoes and tomato
products, pink grapefruit and guava.

"We think there are a lot of potential uses for watermelon that haven’t been explored yet,” said Penelope Perkins-Veazie, Ph.D,
USDA-ARS plant physiologist.  “Watermelon can be a functional food, one that has non-nutritional properties that prevent
certain diseases.”  Perkins-Veazie is leading a team, of scientists from the USDA-ARS, Oklahoma State University
and Texas A&M University, working on this project, sponsored by the National Watermelon Promotion Board at the
USDA-ARS South Central Agricultural Research Lab in Lane, Okla.

Recent studies indicate men who consumed lycopene-rich diets of tomatoes and tomato products had a much lower risk of
experiencing prostate cancer or heart attacks.  In animal studies, lycopene-rich diets have been reported to reduce the risk for
breast and colon cancer. “The medical research on lycopene is just phenomenal and it’s always based on tomatoes or tomato
products, while watermelon has been ignored,” said Perkins-Veazie.  “Compared to fresh tomatoes, watermelon has more
lycopene, and it’s easier to extract because watermelons have fewer pigments and less insoluble material.”

The National Watermelon Promotion Board, based in Orlando, Fla., invested $15,240 to discover the lycopene concentration
in marketable fruit and in culls, melons considered unsuitable for shipment.  The board’s Research Review Committee,
comprised of growers, shippers, and importers, voted to approve the proposal during the board’s fall board meeting in 1998.
NWPB Executive Director William Watson said the early findings present breakthrough opportunities for the watermelon
industry.  “We’re excited about the potential for the watermelon industry to grow and develop new markets that cater to the
consumer demand for lycopenerich foods,” Watson said.

Lycopene is not produced by the human body and must be ingested through lycopene-rich fruits and vegetables or nutritional
supplements.  Perkins-Veazie says interest in extracting essentially pure lycopene for health products is increasing, with one
company now selling lycopene pills using tomato-derived lycopene.  In addition, she says natural sources of red color are in high
demand by the food industry.

Lycopene derivation isn’t as well understood in watermelon as it is in tomatoes.  According to the USDA Food Database, the
average lycopene content in watermelon is officially higher than in tomato (48ug/g vs. 30 ug/g respectively) but the content
varies with the watermelon variety.  Early tests indicate that samples of Sangria, Summer Sweet and Scarlet Trio contained a
range of 39 to 70 micrograms of lycopene per gram of watermelon flesh, said Perkins-Veazie.  In comparison, fresh
tomatoes have 9 to 42 micrograms per gram of lycopene.

“On a per-pound basis, watermelon flesh contains 18 to 32 milligrams per pound of lycopene compared to 4 to 19 milligrams
per pound in fresh tomatoes.  Cooked processed tomatoes contain 44 milligrams of lycopene per pound,” said Perkins-Veazie.

Scientists are investigating the lycopene content in several different varieties of watermelon.  They’ll track the lycopene levels in
open-pollinated and hybrid varieties, such as Fiesta and Sangria and in seedless varieties, such as Tri-X types.  Newer varieties,
such as those with deep-red flesh, may have higher levels of lycopene than classic, older varieties, such as Charleston Grey and
Black Diamond, scientists said.

“We have found that the lycopene content in some of these newer dark melons is significantly higher than the average reported
values for watermelon,” said Julie Collins, USDA-ARS food technologist.  “We’re seeing newer varieties that have more
lycopene that was previously thought.”  Collins said, “The darkness of the melon is a good indicator of the lycopene content.  If
you see a dark red watermelon in the market, you need to eat it, because it’s a good source of lycopene.”

Scientists don’t know whether the lycopene content in watermelon changes once it has been cut and exposed to light or
refrigerated.  “Once a watermelon is cut from the vine, it doesn’t ripen, in terms of gaining more sugar,” Perkins-Veazie said.
“It can gain a small amount of color.  We don’t know whether watermelon color is all due to lycopene or if other types of
pigments can be formed from lycopene breakdown.”

Perkins-Veazie is interested in discovering how to easily extract and process lycopene from watermelon for future use by the
industry.  Working with a team of scientists, she plans to develop a large scale lycopene extraction, stabilization and purification
process in cooperation with the food processing center at Oklahoma State University.

As a powerful antioxidant, lycopene helps protect the body from oxidative damage from harmful substances inside the body and
in the environment.  Lycopene is an effective scavenger, donating electrons to attack and neutralize free radical oxygen
molecules before they damage cells and cause DNA mutations that bring about diseases such as cancer.

In the body, lycopene is present in human plasma and body tissues.  As a fat-soluble compound absorbed by the intestines,
lycopene is carried to the testes, prostate, adrenal glands, kidneys, breasts and adipose tissues.

Susan O’Reilly: NWPB Director of Communications
Orlando FL  (407)895-5100
Citrus & Vegetable Grower

Return to Index
Bio Controls To The Rescue
Growers and packers don’t have many options for controlling postharvest diseases.  Harvesting a clean, healthy crop is the best
line of defense.  But injuries can occur during harvest, cleaning, and sorting, and wounds offer an inviting environment for

As harvested vegetables age, their natural resistance to pathogens wanes, so packers must minimize decay during storage,
whether it’s for a couple of days or several months.  There are few, if any, postharvest fungicides available, thanks to product
cancellations due to health concerns or manufacturer’s decisions not to support minor uses.  And in some cases, pathogens have
developed resistance to fungicides.  The inpending ban on methyl bromide, used as a postharvest fumigant on some crops, has
made the search for alternatives to synthetic fungicides even more urgent.

The good news is that a USDA program in biological control of postharvest diseases has identified three promising strategies -
biologicals, UV light, and natural fungicides - that appear to induce resistance in harvested vegetables and fruit.  Scientist with
USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are working with industry and researchers worldwide to develop treatments that
can supplement or replace traditional fungicides, according to Charles Wilson, a plant pathologist at the ARS Appalachian Fruit
Research Station, Kearneysville, WV.

Antagonists As Allies

The most advanced technology - microbial antagonists that colonize fruit wounds and compete with pathogens for nutrients - is
already used in some commercial packinghouses.  Aspire, a yeast marketed by Ecogen Inc., and Bio-Save bacteria from
EcoScience Produce Systems Corp., based in Orlando, represent the first generation of these antagonists.

 As ARS scientists look for antagonistic microorganisms, they carefully screen out those that produce antibiotics, fearing that
public acceptance of such products would by unlikely.  They also eliminate yeast candidates that have been associated with any
human diseases.

The Bio-Save products were developed through a cooperative research and development agreement between USDA and
EcoScience.  Wojciech Janisiewicz, a plant pathologist at the Appalachian Fruit Research Station, discovered the ESC 11
isolate of Pseudomonas syringae, a bacterium that occurs naturally in U.S. orchards, and EcoScience scientists discovered the
ESC 10 isolate.

EcoScience plans to submit a label expansion for control of Fusarium dry rot and silver scurf on potatoes.  Ecogen is currently
evaluating Aspire on other crops including potatoes and onions.

Making Strides

Janisiewicz has conducted extensive research on the BioSave bacterium.  The next generation of antagonists, he predicts will
control a broader spectrum of pathogens under a wider range of conditions.  For example, mature fruit has less natural
resistance to pathogens and contains more sugar, making it more vulnerable to attack by fungi.  So he’s looking for more
aggressive organisms that will work on mature fruit or perform equally well on different cultivers.

Work continues on enhancing the antagonists.  Wilson and his colleagues are testing chitosan, a substance derived from shellfish
that forms a semi-permeable film and inhibits various pathogenic fungi.  When added to an antagonist and applied as a bioactive
coating to vegetables and fruit, it will have an radicate effect on pathogens that will complement the antagonists’ protective
 There are other interesting projects under way in Janisiewicz’s lab, too.  ARS scientists are working with chitinase and
beta-glucanase, naturally occurringing agents that dissolve the fungal wall by producing lytic enzymes.  In the future, it’s likely
that packers will be able to apply a mixture of biological controls with different mechanisms of actions.  “We think this will be
the next big hit,” Janisiewicz says.

Reduced Risk Options

At the Horticultural Crops Research Laboratory in Fresno, CA, Joseph Smilanick is looking at enhancing the effectiveness of
biocontrol agents with hot water treatments or substances that are considered reduced risk or generally recognized as safe.
These include sodium bicarbonate and liquid lime sulfur solution.  The latter has an advantage over sodium carbonate or
bicarbonate solutions because after it’s used in the packinghouse it can be disposed of by applying it to fields, where it lowers
soil pH.

American Vegetable Grower
August 1999
Return to Index
Buffer Zones 
In this era of “drift awareness” growers are looking to establishing “buffer zones” around their fields to trap whatever drift may
get away and thus not expose their neighbors.  This is especially true in operations using air-blast sprayers or high pressure
boom sprayers, since the small droplet sizes and the clouds produced tend to be less controllable than directed sprays and
lower pressure larger droplet patterns.

However, buffer zones also bring an extra dividend: LOWER PEST PRESSURE.

The sole fact of having a buffer zone, be it an open cleared strip around the field, or a windbreak/tree-line type divider, keeps
pests and spores from drifting into the planted areas from other fields.,  Usually the borders of the fields or fence rows of
nurseries and groves tend to be overgrown, especially with weeds, and as luck would  have it that these weeds are actually the
chosen hosts of the pests that will then attack the crops in the area they surround.

Growers that have taken the time to clear their boundaries, as well as those that have planted trees or tall  plants to make hedge
rows are reporting lower incidences of pest and disease pressures, and the only thing they have done different is to take care of
their buffer zones.

Some enterprising growers have even gone to the extreme to plant Neem Trees in their boundaries. These trees are
fast-growing and will become good windbreaks.  The fact that the Neem Tree (from India, where it is known for its insect
repellent properties) is expected to also repulse the hordes of whiteflies and other predator insects charging at the succulent
field, has not yet been confirmed as the trees are still young, but expect reports on their effectiveness after the next growing

Spray Tips   8/16/99
Return to Index
Plant Nutrition Impacts 
Vegetable Quality
 Fertilization practices can have significant impacts on harvested fruit quality and quality retention during packinghouse operations and distribution.  Although fruit quality generally increases as soil nutrient levels increase from deficient to optimum levels, nutrient levels that produce maximum yield may not always correspond to highest quality.  Although addition of nutrients above optimum yield may not always correspond to highest quality.  Although addition of nutrients above optimum levels may not reduce yields, they can have negative effects that are not readily apparent.

Nitrogen:  Nitrogen is an important constituent of proteins and plays a critical role in a cell’s biochemical machinery.  Low N
can result in reduced yields and less protein content and inferior quality.  Excessive N can reduce vitamin C content, lower sugar
content and acidity.  High N fertilization can also lead to flavor changes in celery.  Other effects of excessive soil N include
delayed maturity, increased weight loss during storage of sweet potato, and an increase in hollow stem in broccoli, soft rot in
tomatoes and bruising of peppers.

Phosphorus & Potassium:  Phosphorus (P) is an important component of plant DNA, cell membranes, and energy-yielding
intermediates of photosynthesis and respiration.  Potassium, (K) plays an important role in osmotic (water potential) regulation
of cells and in activating different enzymes in photosynthesis and respiration.  As for fruit quality, high P levels have been
reported to increase vitamin C content, increase titratable acidity and alter color of vegetables.  High K levels have often been
associated with improving quality of vegetables.  Optimum K fertilization has been associated with decreased blotchy ripening of tomato.

(Editor’s note:  Excess K has been implicated in decreasing the specific gravity of potatoes.  Excessive K can also lead to
increased soluble salt problems)

Calcium:  Calcium is an important component of cell walls and cell membrane function.  Unlike N, P or K, calcium is very
immobile in plants and cannot be transported from older tissues to growing tissues during times of deficiencies.  Therefore, the
time of calcium availability can have important implications in the amount that winds up in a specific plant part.  Common
calcium deficiency disorders include blossom-end rot, brownheart of escarole, tipburn of lettuce and blackheart of celery.

(Editor’s note: Although high calcium levels will reduce these disorders, the problem is often related to water management since calcium moves in the transpiration stream and anything that impedes water update also limits calcium uptake.)

High calcium has also been associated with other positive effects such as extended storage life, delayed ripening, increased firmness and reduced respiration and ethylene production.

(Adapted from Ritenour, Vegetarian 99-08
Manatee Vegetable Newsletter
September/October 1999
Return to Index
FDACS Establishes a 
New Applicator Category 
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) has completed the rule making process to establish a
new applicator category.  It is for persons who use or supervise the use of restricted use herbicides to control unwanted
vegetation to protect natural communities of conservation lands and natural areas.  The following category description and
category competency standards have been adopted by FDACS for inclusion in 5E-9.021 and .024 of the Florida
Administrative Code (FAC).

Category Description:  Natural Areas Weed Management:  This category is applicable to individuals who use or supervise the
use of restricted use herbicides to control unwanted vegetation to protect natural communities of conservation and recreation
lands and natural areas.  This category is valid for licensure of commercial and public applicators.  Applicators acting under the
authority of another license category prior to this category being established may continue activities under the alternate category
until license renewal or expiration.

The Natural Areas Weed Management category will be implemented as soon as the training materials and examination are
developed.  These are in process at this time.  Until the manual and exam are available, persons needing certification for this
activity should use the Forestry category.  The Natural Areas Weed Management Category will require 16 Continuing
Education Units (CEUs) to renew certification and licensure.

(Dr. Norm Nesheim, June 14, 1999)
Glades Manpower Development Newsletter
July 1999
Return to Index
Food Safety in the 
 Fresh Produce Industry
 In recent years, outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with both imported and domestic fresh fruits and vegetables has been on the increase.  Part of this is due to heightened awareness and an increase in the ability to detect problems, as well as
enhanced surveillance.  Whatever the reason, the food safety issue could have enormous ramifications for both producers and
consumers, whose health depends in part on the availability and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.

In October, 1998, the FDA released the “Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables”.
This guide is one step in an effort to improve the safety of fresh produce from the farm to the table.  It provides voluntary
guidelines that can be used to evaluate individual operations, both field and packinghouse.

Recently, a series of Food Safety Workshops was held by FFVA around the state to introduce the new Guide to growers and
packers.  Participants were provided with a good overview of the program and suggestions for things to consider when
conducting a self-audit of their food safety procedures covering each of the following key areas:

Water:  Water quality dictates the potential for contamination.  It may be the source or may help spread a pathogen.  Water
quality needs vary with how it’s used and the degree of contact with the product (i.e. irrigation water vs. wash water, eaten
whole or peeled, etc.).  Both GAPs (Good Agricultural Practices) and GMPs (Good Manufacturing Practices) can be followed
to maintain water quality in the field and packinghouse.  Examples could include use of drip irrigation, monitoring pH and C1
levels, cleaning and sanitizing water contact surfaces, changing water in dump tanks and hydrocoolers, and maintaining proper
temperatures in dump tank water and cooling operations.

Manure and Biosolids:  These can be significant sources of contamination.  Sludge or biosolids that are land-applied have
probably already been tested.  Get a copy of the analysis and keep it on file.  It’s probably best not to use raw manure in fresh
produce production.  Federal and state regulations provide requirements for the use of biosolids in the US. Domestic animals
should be excluded from fields and packing facilities to ensure that animal waste from adjacent fields does not contaminate
production areas.

Worker Health and Hygiene:  Employees should be trained to follow good hygienic practices.  It’s interesting that many
OSHA and WPS guidelines focus on protecting worker health by mandating hygiene facilities and encouraging handwashing
before using the restroom or eating, etc.  Now we need to carry this a step further and also promote handwashing after using
the restroom, using proper handwashing techniques and the importance of using toilets.  Such basic sanitation and hygiene
training could be included in training you already conduct under the WPS.  Place placards in washrooms or other areas to
remind employees of the correct procedures.  Become familiar with disease signs and symptoms and educate your employees.
Use of gloves can be a good GAP by protecting workers from pesticides, chlorine, etc., while providing protection from cuts or
lesions to avoid contact with fresh produce.  Something as simple as keeping a log of when restrooms were cleaned is a good
example of GMP that can help document your compliance efforts.

Field Sanitation:  Clean harvest containers or bins prior to use.  Keep harvest equipment as clean as practical.  Assign the
responsibility for maintaining clean equipment to someone dependable who will monitor for problems.

Packing Facilities:  Remove as much soil as practical outside the packing facility before containers or produce are brought
inside.  Store empty containers in a manner and location that will minimize contamination.  Establish and maintain a good pest
control program and keep a pest control log.

Transportation:  Good hygienic and sanitation practices should be used when loading, unloading and inspecting fresh produce. Vehicles should be inspected for cleanliness, odors, dirt and debris before loading.

Traceback:  Most growers already have procedures to track produce containers from the farm, to the packer, distributor and
possibly retailer, although this is more difficult with products that go through repackers.  Documentation should include as much
information as necessary to enable the source of that product to be determined.  This could protect you in a potential
contamination incident.

One practice that FFVA does not recommend is the use of pathogen-specific testing.  Currently,  one problem is the lack of
threshold levels to be able to say whether a product is safe or not.  Even if “quick tests” were developed which a producer
could use to make a quick determination, they often give only a yes or no answer.  Since it’s virtually impossible to entirely
eliminate all pathogens (thus, the title of the guide, i.e. “...minimize...hazards”), pathogenspecific testing at this time would only
create more problems.

Emphasize to your employees that what we are dealing with here is FOOD which will, at some point, end up in someone’s
mouth.  A lot of the guidelines are just good common sense.  Additional workshops are planned this fall with expanded
guidelines and information on GAPs and GMPs for Florida vegetable industry.  In the meantime, one of the most important
things growers and packers can do is document.  No matter how trivial or routine the task, if it’s something that could help
minimize the potential
for microbial contamination in your operation, keep a log or some type of documentation for your protection.

You may access the guide on the internet at

Manatee Vegetable Newsletter
September/October 1999
Return to Index
Spray Tips 
Workers decontamination sites must be permanently situated within ½ mile of all workers?

Answer - False.

Decontamination sites must be established within ¼ mile of all workers in the field.  These sites should include:

1 Enough water for routine and emergency whole body washing and eye flushing.
2 Plenty of soap and single-use towels.  (roll paper towels)
3 A clean change of clothes (a spray suit will do).

The water provided should be safe and cool enough for washing, eye flushing and drinking.  Do not use tank water that is also
used for mixing pesticides.

Provide handlers these same supplies where personal protective equipment (PPE) is removed at the end of the task.

Provide these same supplies at each mixing and loading site.

Do not put worker contamination sites in areas being treated or under an REI.

Spray Tips
July 1999
Return to Index
Foliar Nutrition
Plants absorb nutrients as well as other chemicals through their foliage to varying degrees.  Growers in most all types of
agriculture apply foliar nutritional sprays from time to time for various reasons.  A basic philosophy many growers utilize is to
apply what is believed to be required to the soil in the fertilization program, and use nutritional foliar supplements as a tool to
give crops any nutrients they may still be lacking.  Even though growers constantly use this technique as nutritional supplement,
the mechanism of foliar absorption of nutrients is not well understood.

In order to understand foliar absorption, we must first take a look at the surface of a leaf.  Moving from the outside.  The leaf
surface is composed of layers of cuticular wax, followed by the cuticle or “skin” of the leaf.  The cuticle exudes the wax.  Under
the cuticle are the cell walls of various types of leaf cells.  Inside the cell walls are the plasma membranes of the cells
themselves.  A foliar applied nutrient must pass through the cuticular wax,  the cuticle, the cell wall, and the membrane in that
order.  Sometimes the nutrient will pass though these various layers, while other times it may pass through the spaces between
these layers.  Such absorption involves both active and passive processes of the leaf.

The second and most often the, major means of  foliar absorption is through  the stomates, which are microscopic pores in the
epidermis of the leaf.  When the stomates are open, foliar absorption is often easier.  Plant species vary widely in the, number of
stomates per leaf area, and in their relative distribution.  Some plants have more stomates on the lower leaf surface than on the
upper and some vice versa.

In simpler terms, some plants are, good at absorbing nutrients through their leaves, while others are not.  The variables tend to
be how many stomates and how they are distributed, and how thick the waxy cuticle of the leaf is.  Plants with large, broad soft
leaves such as Spathiphyllum or many bedding plant species are rather efficient at absorbing, foliar nutrients.  Palms, Avocados,
Cucubits, some Citrus and Zamias for example are not as adept at this absorption, due to the thicker tougher nature of their

The speed of absorption of nutrients is quite variable according to the nutrient, and to some degree the plant type.  Rates of
foliar absorption have generally not been studied in ornamental varieties.


Once the spray has dried, absorption generally ceases until the leaves are moistened again, either by the dew the next day or
additional rainfall or overhead irrigation.  The various types of chelating agents are also not equal in their ability to penetrate the
leaf.  Some chelating agents work better on some types of plants, but not necessarily as well on others.  The best chelating agent
will depend in part on what type of plant you are spraying.

Another common misconception regards rates of foliar nutritional applications.  Generally, there is a great deal of difference
between the amount of chemical it takes to maximize absorption and the amount it takes to burn.  Absorption is the limiting
factor, so don’t make your rates too high.  You may be able to double or triple the spray rate, but it won’t necessarily increase
absorption.  It will increase risk of spray injury, so be conservative in your foliar application rates.

There are a number of situations when foliar nutritional supplements are especially useful.  One is during propagation of slow
rooting plant material.  Long term mist propagation can leach nutrients severely, and foliar nutritional sprays during that time are
very helpful.  Nutritional sprays can be used efficiently to overcome other problems.  Another useful foliar technique is during
cold fronts.  When a cold front comes down, frequently you get heavy rain followed by several cold days.   During this period,
the fertilizer is not releasing a great deal, and the plants are not feeding.  That is a good time to come in and apply some foliar
nutrition to keep the plants moving until things warm up.

Several techniques should be used when trying to maximize foliar absorption of nutrients.  One is to try to maximize the time that
the spray is wet on the foliage.  This preferably means early in the morning, when humidity is up, leaves are wet with dew.
Spraying in the middle of a hot day will give you reduced effectiveness in absorption.  It also helps to add urea or potassium
nitrate to nutritional sprays when applying trace elements.  The mechanism is not known, but there is substantial research that
indicates applying these materials with trace, elements increases trace element absorption.   Try to spray when the stomates are open, preferably, during  a cooler time of day.  Some industries like to spray at night, and that can be useful in some situations.  Try also to coat both the upper and lower leaf surfaces where practical, as many times the spray stays wet on the leaf longer, and there are more stomates to facilitate absorption on the lower leaf surfaces of many plant varieties.

The use of wetting agents or surfactants also aids in absorption, by spreading out the spray from droplets into a broader shape,
increasing contact with the foliage.  Surfactants also reduce the angle at which the spray material enters the leaf, which can be
useful.  it is generally useful to thoroughly wet the foliage when applying nutritional sprays.

Low volume sprayers may not be as effective in some cases.  You should spray to run off, and once again cover the lower leaf
surfaces.  Finally, do not get too high on your rates.  Going higher on the rates of chemicals applied can actually reduce
absorption, as can mixing too many nutritionals in the tank at a time.

Foliar nutritional sprays can be a very useful technique, especially when you understand the principles behind it.  Nutritional
sprays enable you to correct deficiencies, strengthen weak or damaged crops, speed growth and overall grow better plants,
which is of course, the bottom line.

Spray Tips
July 1999
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FQPA Update 
 Chemical use cancellations and class action lawsuits are rapidly causing the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) to reach the
boiling point.  Aug., 1, 1999 was the deadline for the EPA to review a third of all chemicals and set safe tolerance levels for
exposure in order to implement FQPA as mandated by Congress.  Just how this is done will have a profound impact on the
future of all chemical registrations.

As of press time, EPA announced it is eliminating specific uses of methyl parathion and significantly lowering allowable residues
for azinphos methyl on a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.  These two organophosphates are used on apples, peaches,
wheat, rice, and cotton, all of which are frequently eaten by infants and children. For growers of these crops, the question is
whether or not an alternative chemical exists.

Entities Outraged

There is a battle royal raging over the implementation of FQPA.  In April, seven environmental activist groups serving on an
EPA advisory panel on the reassessment process resigned en masse.  Critics contend the EPA delayed taking action because of
pressure from agriculture interests.  These activists have since filed a lawsuit against EPA alleging that the agency has failed to
reassess the riskiest of pesticide tolerances as intended by Congress.  The above decision has frustrated and outraged House
Agriculture Committee members who accuse the EPA of the improper implementation of FQPA.  A bill has been
introduced-H.R. 1334-that would direct EPA to use sound science, seek public input, and gather additional data before
eliminating pesticides.  As a result, the American Crop Protection Agency, American Farm Bureau Federation, and 23 others, have filed suit against EPA in order to demand support of sound science in EPA’s implementation

Order the FQPA Action Kit by calling 800-572-7740, ext. 109, fax 440-942-0662, or e-mail  Visit for updated information.

Kris Sweet
Florida Grower
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Florida’s Talking
 According to the Florida Agricultural Statistics Service, cash receipts from Florida agricultural products in 1998 amounted to
$6.76 billion.  This is a 3.7% increase from 1997

Cash receipts from all crops increased 4.7% from 1997, and cash receipts from all livestock and livestock products increased
by only 0.6%.

As in previous years, the leading crop commodities were oranges, foliage and floriculture, tomatoes, and sugar cane.  The
leading livestock commodities were milk, cattle and calves, and broilers.

September 1999
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New Web Database to Provide 
Comprehensive Information for the
Watermelon Industry
With just a few clicks at the computer, watermelon producers, shippers and importers have access to a new web database
designed to offer an extensive variety of production and research information at one web site.

The National Watermelon Promotion Board has invested $3,000 to develop a new database with Oklahoma State University
researchers at the South Central Agricultural Research Lab in Lane, OK.

The Watermelon Website at includes the following topics:

    · Watermelon cultivar database, including availability and characteristics of over 300 cultivars
    · Images of watermelon cultivars (over 180 images are available)
    · Directory of watermelon seed distributors
    · Watermelon trial evaluations
    · Watermelon production and pesticide practices.

The Watermelon Market Report
September 1999
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EPA Acts to Reduce Exposure to
Two older, Widely Used Pesticides
 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today cancellation agreements and risk reduction strategies to increase
protections for American families and their children from risks posed by two of the oldest, most widely used chemical
compounds that remain in use as pesticides today.  EPA is eliminating specific uses of methyl parathion, and significantly
lowering allowable residues for azinphos methyl on a wide variety of produce, including several fruits and vegetables regularly
eaten by children.  EPA today also laid out a rigorous 18-month schedule for completing its review of all the
“organophosphates,” a group of 39 older, common pesticides, which include methyl parathion and azinphos methyl.  In addition
to the organophosphates, the Agency has targeted several other older, widely used pesticides for priority review within the next
year and a half, including the pesticides atrazine, aldicarb and carbofuran, among others.

“Our nation enjoys the safest, most abundant food supply in the world,” said EPA Administrator Carol Browner.  “I want to
emphasize that for children and adults alike the benefits of a diet that includes fruits and vegetables far outweigh the risks of

“Nonetheless, as our scientific understanding of the health risks and environmental effects of pesticides improves, it is becoming
increasingly clear that foods can be made even safer, especially for children.  Our actions today will protect children from the
adverse effects of exposure to pesticides commonly used on foods.  The Agency also is on schedule to meet all deadlines for
ensuring safer pesticide use under the new Food Quality Protection Act.

EPA’s actions are being taken after an extensive scientific review of the risks posed by these chemicals.  EPA has worked
closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the agricultural community to ensure that our decisions will not disrupt the
growing and marketing plans of farmers.  As adjustments are made to reduce pesticide risk, EPA and USDA also are working
together to ensure that farmers will have alternative pest management tools and substitutes.

The Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), which was passed unanimously by Congress under the leadership of the Clinton
Administration and based on recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences, provides the public, especially
children, with unprecedented protection from the risks of pesticide exposure.  Under the Act, which the President signed in
1996, EPA is to apply, for the first time, a comprehensive set of new, more protective health-based standards.  These
standards incorporate the most current scientific knowledge available on pesticide risks, and include an additional 10-fold safety
factor to address the special risks of children’s exposures to pesticides.

The reductions EPA is making today will address the unique risks children face when exposed to pesticides.  For example, it is
known that some pesticides pose a greater risk to infants and children because their bodies and internal organs are still
developing, which makes them much more susceptible to the effects of pesticides.  Children also ingest greater quantities of
food and drink relative to their body weight, as compared to adults, which increases their exposure to pesticides.

Based on its concerns, EPA is today eliminating the continued use of methyl parathion-one of the more potent
organophosphates - on apples, peaches, pears, grapes, nectarines, cherries, plums, carrots certain peas, certain beans, and
tomatoes, among other fruits and vegetables.  For azinphos methyl, also considered to be a pesticide of concern, the Agency is
reducing application rates and requiring practices that will result in significant reductions in allowable residues on apples, pears
and peaches.

The major manufacturers to enter into these agreements are, for methyl parathion, Cheminova Inc., Wayne, N.J., and Elf
Atochem North America Inc., Philadelphia, Pa.  For azinphos methyl, the two primary manufacturers are Bayer Corp., Kansas
City, Mo., and Makhteshim-Agan, Beer-Sheva, Israel.  In addition to significantly reducing the use of methyl parathion and
azinphos methyl on foods popular among children, EPA has taken a number of additional measures to reduce pesticide risks, as
called for by FQPA, including:

By the end of next year, EPA is scheduled to complete its reassessment of the organophosphates and several other older, more
commonly used pesticides, and to meet the FQPA’s food safety goals.  A schedule outlining the review of the
organophosphates, and a progress report on FQPA is available at:

EPA: Headquarters Press Release
August 2, 1999
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The EPA Should Listen to VP Gore
“Regulatory decisions should be based on the best science and data available.  EPA should continue to seek peer review and
public review of its methods and approaches for analyzing potential risk under the [Food Quality Protection Act], particularly
with models, exposure scenarios, and use of scientific inferences.  Use of default assumptions and exposure scenarios, should
be carefully considered and fully explained in the public record.” - Vice President Al Gore

The Vice President’s words, so encouraging when the agriculture community first heard them earlier this year, have a hollow
sound today.  On August 2, having fulfilled none of the preliminaries Gore prescribed, the EPA moved to restrict applications of
parathion and azinphos-methyl (Gunthion).

Florida farmers won’t be crippled by the restrictions on these two chemicals.  They don’t use them much, and alternatives are
available.  Nevertheless, they were justifiably chilled by the EPA’s announcement, which seemed to signal that something had
gone very wrong with the FQPA implementation process.  Many in agriculture viewed the action as a calculated affront to the
principles set forth in the Gore memo:

“...Decisions should be based on the best science and data available.”  The agency, under political pressure, acted on these two
products based on worst-case, rather than realistic risk scenarios.  Important tests and risk assessments had not been

EPA should continue to seek peer review and public review of its methods and approaches for analyzing potential risk...”  In
fact, at the time it took the action, EPA had not fully developed the science policies that were to guide key decisions on FQPA
implementation and so peer and public review could not take place.

“...particularly with models, exposure scenarios, and use of scientific inferences.”  As of August 2, not a single FQPA rule,
policy or even guidance document had been finalized by the agency.  The decision was premature, and was based on theories
rather than data and on political science rather than pure science.  In accordance with the Gore Memorandum, EPA established
a transparent forum and advisory committee (TRAC) for stakeholders.  The TRAC has promoted understanding of the
reassessment process
and provided an avenue for stakeholder comment as EPA releases policies for comment.  Now, however, EPA is soliciting
comments from a select group of stakeholders-the environmental community-that earlier walked away from TRAC.

The Gore memorandum warrants a thorough re-reading and a commitment by EPA to return to the principles and processes it
put forth.  Only in this way can EPA and the administration restore their credibility with the agricultural community.

September 1999
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American Vegetable Grower
August 1999
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Believe it or not! 

Banging your head against a wall uses 150 calories an hour.

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“Hall of Shame”
This summer, an investigation conducted by the FDACS’s Pesticide Compliance Section determined that a producer was
illegally applying Ambush (permethrin) to his five acre basil crop.  No tolerance has ever been established for permethrin on
basil, so this user is in violation of the label.  To aggravate the problem further, Ambush is a restricted use pesticide, for retail
sale and use only by certified applicators or persons under their direct supervision.  The producer did not posses a
restricted-use pesticide applicator’s license, and admitted that he borrowed the Ambush Insecticide from a friend and used it
without any direct supervision.

Added to this, the producer had not even taken the first step toward training his agricultural workers in accordance with the
Worker Protection Standard (WPS).  None of his workers possessed an approved Worker Protection worker training

The use of the Ambush inconsistent with its label issue is unlawful under Section 487.031(10) of the Florida Statutes.  The use
of a restricted-use pesticide without a license is unlawful under Section 487.031(9) of the Statues, and the WPS problem is a
violation of Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 170.130 and 170.230.

Therefore, this producer is subject to administrative action, including fines up to $10,000 per violation.  Additionally, he may be
subject to additional penalty provisions of FIFRA, which are administered by EPA.

FDACS Communication;  July 28, 1999
Chemically Speaking,
October 1999
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Pesticide Registrations and Actions

                - edible podded legume vegetables, stone fruits, corn grain, sorghum grain, forage, hay and straw.

                - Novartis’s trifloxystrobin, in or on cucurbit vegetables, pome fruit, grapes, peanuts, and peanut hay.

Return to Index
University of Delaware Students
Invent Device 
to Test Watermelon Ripeness
Four mechanical engineering students from the University of Delaware have developed an ingenious device to test for
watermelon ripeness.

Green watermelons-a serious economic threat to growers and a disappointment for consumers are automatically rejected by this
new machine.

The prototype takes into consideration what one needs to test for ripeness the old-fashioned way:  A hand to thump on the
melon and an ear to listen for the telltale, hollow sound.  Only this machine uses a mallet as a metal arm to rap the melon.  A
microphone picks up the sound and transfers it via electric signal to a laptop computer, which analyzes the acoustic signal.

On watermelons tested so far, the frequency of the echo appears to correlate closely with how ripe it is.  The prototype reports
a ripeness reading in 12 seconds.  The machine weighs about 18 lbs. and costs less than $1,100 to build.

The computer-controlled ripeness sensor ultimately could result in huge savings for the watermelon industry, according to
William Watson, NWPB executive director, and Ed Kee, a UD extension specialist.  “Among our members, our research has
shown that the number one thing that keeps popping up is that there needs to be a device to help anyone harvesting or buying a
watermelon to determine ripeness,” said Watson.  “This invention can only help the whole watermelon industry.”

Kee says watermelon growers need an automatic ripeness sensor because “it’s not at all unusual for a 40,000-pound truckload
of watermelons to be rejected  at the marketplace.  An entire load can be rejected if 10 melons are green.”

The prototype isn’t ready for the market just yet and inventors Matt Behr, Dave Bartoski, Allan Cohen and Jason Firko are
working on testing their invention in the field.

The Watermelon Marketer
August 1999
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FDACS-Tallahassee Gets 
New Address and Phone Number
 The FDACS Certification Office in Tallahassee has officially moved.  Their new address is:

            Pesticide Certification Office
            3125 Conner Blvd., Bldg. 8 (L29)
            Tallahassee, FL  32399-1650


Please note, if you are a licensed restricted-use pesticide applicator and have changed your address since your license was
issued, you need this information.

In order to renew your license the Bureau needs to send you a renewal notice.  If your address has changed, they cannot
contact you at the time of renewal.  if your license expired, your only choice is to RETAKE THE EXAM.

Return to Index
On The Lighter Side
The Paradox of our Time

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wider freeways, but narrower

We spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less. We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences,
but less time; we have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, but more problems;
more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry too quickly, stay up too
late, get up too tired, read too seldom, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We've
learned how to make a living, but not a life; we've added years to life, not life to years.

We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing  the street to meet the new neighbor.

We've conquered outer space, but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things. We've cleaned up the air,
but polluted the soul.

We've split the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned
to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever, but have less

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion; tall men, and short character; steep profits, and shallow relationships.
These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare; more leisure, but less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition.

These are days of two incomes, but more divorce; of fancier houses, but broken homes.

These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throw-away morality, one-night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do
everything from cheer to quiet, to kill.

It is a time when there is much in the show window and nothing in the stockroom; a time when technology can bring this letter to
you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.

George Carlin

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