Property Appraisers Can Help with Land Holding Strategies

by BRAD WEIHRAUCH
May 2013

Land values along Florida’s coast are starting to improve.  And fortunately, that upwards trend should eventually affect the central part of our state.  But while we wait to see what real estate markets will do, landowners want to know how they should be using their land.

Property owners who want to leave their land to heirs, or want alternative uses for their property for agricultural or other tax benefits, are in a similar situation.  They all need strategies for holding land.

Most property appraiser’s offices can help you decide the best course of action.  At this time of year, they are near the end of their spring influx of applications for land use tax code applications.  You shouldn’t hesitate to call and talk to an expert in land tax codes.  Most of these professionals are eager to help you understand different potential uses for your property, such as timber, hay, cattle, leasing to other farms, or switching crops altogether.

Your property appraiser’s office staff can tell you about application and new use deadlines.  Their deadlines might not coincide with Mother Nature’s optimum timeframe for a new land management practice, however.  Good communication and proper planning will make that land transition almost painless.


BIO: Brad Weihrauch is a Polk County native.  He grew up around a family business of agriculture and customer service.  After Winter Haven High School, he went on to complete his education at Polk Community College and Warner Southern.  After serving 17 years in customer service for a large retailer, Weihrauch returned to his agriculture roots and founded RWC, an agri-service and management company, in 2002.

Food Safety Guideline Changes on the Way

by BRAD WEIHRAUCH
April 2013

Food safety is becoming a hot issue for all farmers, no matter what the crop. Change is coming and it’s best to prepare for it now by cleaning your groves and cropland, if necessary.

Fresh fruit growers, in particular, will have tighter field guidelines as buyers become more and more aware of how their food is grown. This applies to citrus and all “fresh fruit,” including blueberries and strawberries.

It is wise to contact your state legislators to give your input into any proposed changes to Food Safety Standards implemented by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Learn more about food safety decisions that affect your crop.

It is wise to tackle any needed cleanup now before new regulations tighten field standards and complicate the process.

Food safety has been an important concern for years, but in the past the focus was on packers, processors, and shippers. The trend has shifted to include field safety in all areas of farming. Many packers are using camera systems so produce brokers and retail buyers can see their product on the packing line.

So I encourage you to act now. Get involved in the process and have your say before new standards are adopted!

 

BIO: Brad Weihrauch is a Polk County native.  He grew up around a family business of agriculture and customer service.  After Winter Haven High School, he went on to complete his education at Polk Community College and Warner Southern.  After serving 17 years in customer service for a large retailer, Weihrauch returned to his agriculture roots and founded RWC, an agri-service and management company, in 2002.

Windbreaks Embraced for Limiting Crop Damage, Disease

by BRAD WEIHRAUCH
March, 2013

Spring is upon us and, with it, more persistent winds that spread disease in the fields.  It’s time to reconsider the benefits of windbreaks, or trees and shrubs used to limit crop damage from the wind.

On the plus side, windbreaks have been proven to be helpful to reduce the spread of citrus canker.  Now they’re being studied for their ability to limit the movement of the psyllid, the insect that spreads citrus greening or Huanglongbing (HLB) disease.

In an effort to control wind scar, soil erosion, and the spread of disease, many citrus growers and row crop farmers have planted Torelliana and Eucalyptus trees for their fast-paced growth and full-leaf canopy.

You can learn about other options through “Windbreak Plants Species for Florida Citrus Groves,” published a few years ago by Dr. Bill Castle of the University of Florida’s Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred.  You can find it online here: http://www.crec.ifas.ufl.edu/extension/windbreaks/pdf/plant_species.pdf

Windbreaks can possibly cause problems, like crop shading.  They can compete with your crops for nutrients and water.  They’ll reduce the number of acres you have for crops, plus they’ll cost money to maintain.  But in some farmers’ minds, the benefits outweigh the cost.

 

BIO: Brad Weihrauch is a Polk County native.  He grew up around a family business of agriculture and customer service.  After Winter Haven High School, he went on to complete his education at Polk Community College and Warner Southern.  After serving 17 years in customer service for a large retailer, Weihrauch returned to his agriculture roots and founded RWC, an agri-service and management company, in 2002.

Land Management: Time for Fertilizer and Pesticide Applications

by Brad Weihrauch
February, 2013

As winter fades and crops begin to blossom, it is once again time to diligently apply granular and spray fertilizers and pesticides.  We have inventoried how much of each material we have on hand and begun preparing an order list.

Prices vary a lot, so you will want to shop for supplies.  Even if you have been in the farming and ranching business for years, it is wise to brush up on your calculations to determine how much of each ingredient to use in your mix.  The high cost of supplies demands precision when you’re mixing chemicals.

Before you begin, be sure your spray equipment is clean.  Partially loading spray equipment with clean water, running and calibrating the equipment beforehand can save you trouble later.  Allow the machine to run several minutes to be sure the lines are free of foreign particles.  After a sprayer has been lying around unused all winter, particles have been known to break loose and clog jets.  It can be hazardous and expensive to stop a job to clean spray jets.

Also be sure to check the expiration date on pesticide licenses.  Applying pesticides properly is critical to your crops’ success.

BIO: Brad Weihrauch is a Polk County native.  He grew up around a family business of agriculture and customer service.  After Winter Haven High School, he went on to complete his education at Polk Community College and Warner Southern.  After serving 17 years in customer service for a large retailer, Weihrauch returned to his agriculture roots and founded RWC, an agri-service and management company, in 2002.

Managing Your Land During Unpredictable Weather

by BRAD WEIHRAUCH
Jan, 2013

The cold weather blast that came through the weekend prior to Christmas seemed to sneak up on us.  Once again, I was amazed by the difference between the forecasted temperatures and what actually occurred.  Remember, it is important to know your land and have the most accurate information possible.

From the small home garden to the large agricultural operations, it is very important to have a good thermometer.  If you have 20 acres or more you should have more than one placed in different locations on the property as temperatures can vary on the same parcel.  Be sure to look at proper mounting instructions for the thermometer you buy.  Landowners should record low temperatures and conditions and compare them to the forecast.  This will help you develop a pattern about your land for future cold events.

The other important element is to have accurate information.  Typically television and newspapers are not overly reliable sources for farming or land management.  Look for websites or forecasts that are more exact about your specific location.  Several of the County Extension Service Agents have a service that you can subscribe to and call for a more precise forecast.  During the cold events preceding Christmas 2012, I saw an 8-degree difference between the local television forecast and actual temperatures.  Having the above information will definitely help your agricultural business perform better during Florida’s most difficult time to predict weather.

BIO: Brad Weihrauch is a Polk County native.  He grew up around a family business of agriculture and customer service.  After Winter Haven High School, he went on to complete his education at Polk Community College and Warner Southern.  After serving 17 years in customer service for a large retailer, Weihrauch returned to his agriculture roots and founded RWC, an agri-service and management company, in 2002.