St. Patrick’s Day is Saturday, and it’s the biggest holiday for the traditional corned beef and cabbage. Palm Beach County farmers play major role in cabbage production.
Cabbage season is currently underway in the Everglades Agricultural Area, which includes western Palm Beach County’s Glades area around Lake Okeechobee.
Buddy McKinstry of Heritage Farms Produce, Belle Glade, said, “I am proud that my family works hard to grow the wholesome vegetables that fill your family’s tables. Our family has been farming for more than 39 years and we grow a wide array of produce including sweet corn, radishes, celery, beans, lettuce and leafy vegetables such as cabbage.
“EAA farmland is some of the most valuable and fertile farmland in the country and the best cabbage is grown right here in the EAA,” McKinstry said.
In Florida, nearly 8,900 acres of cabbage are planted annually. At the end of season, about 8,200 acres are harvested and yield more than 270 million pounds of cabbage. The crop is expected to produce a total value of roughly $34 million in the Sunshine State during the 2017-2018 season.
Cabbage season in the EAA runs from November 15 to April 15 and produces enough fresh cabbage to feed 250 million people.
Cabbage is versatile winter vegetable and can be eaten raw, steamed or sautéed.
In 2016 Florida produced $49 million worth of cabbage — 12 percent of the total U.S. value of cabbage for the fresh market, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
With an estimated $1.42 billion in total agricultural sales for 2016-17, Palm Beach County leads the State of Florida and all counties east of the Mississippi River. It is one of the ten largest agricultural producing counties in the United States.
Palm Beach County ranks first in the nation in the production of sugarcane and fresh sweet corn. It leads the state in the production of rice, lettuce, radishes, Chinese vegetables, specialty leaf, celery and bell peppers, according to the Palm Beach County Cooperative Extension Service.
In 2016, in terms of total value of production, Florida accounted for:
•40 percent of the fresh market tomatoes (as opposed to those being canned or processed) at $383 million
•37 percent of the nation’s snap beans at $106 million
•36 percent of the fresh market cucumbers at $66 million
•31 percent of cucumbers for processing at $50.8 million
29 percent of fresh market bell peppers at $210 million
•24 percent of fresh market sweet corn at $160 million
•21 percent of watermelons at $123 million
•19 percent of strawberries at $450 million
•18 percent of the squash at $30 million