Flashback: Looking back to 1947 in 1967

From The Harvester, September 1967

Remember 1947? –

Remember 1947, that 12-month stretch in our lives that occurred 20 years ago? Harry Truman was president and the nation was humming, “I Wish I Didn’t Love You So” and “Time After Time.”

On the local scene, the association’s yearbook reported that a young agricultural economist with a degree from the University of Florida had been hired. His name was Joffre David. Today he is general manager of FFVA.

Some of the problems the industry was wrestling with in ’47 have a familiar ring. In one report a member said, “Don’t let anyone tell you that Uncle Sam is going to get out of your business – he isn’t.”

The labor committee chairman said, “Labor offers the most serious threat to the continued existence of the Florida vegetable industry – and the greatest opportunity for improvement.”

A memo from the foreign competition committee said, “Foreign competition is probably the most serious problem facing the Florida producer of tomatoes, lima beans, cucumbers, eggplant …”

These insecticides were listed under the heading of “The latest in insect control:” DDT, chlordane, benzene hexachloride (BHC), toxaphene. Under “our old insecticides” were nicotine, pyrethrum and rotenone.

An official of the Western Growers Association gave Florida growers advice: “If present wasteful, unsanitary, hard-to-buy methods of retailing fresh produce are continued and if fresh produce is not kitchen serviced for housewives, you and I are going to eat fewer and fewer fresh vegetables and more frozen, canned and processed vegetables.”

Icing trucks en route to market obviously gave problems in those days. A report said, “Facilities are poor but getting better. Ice prices range from 30 cents to 90 cents per cwt and service is often poor.”

And – someone invented a sweet corn harvesting machine in 1947. A report glowed with this message: “A new belt-type conveyor machine that enables 13 field workers to pick and place in mesh bags 60,000 ears of sweet corn a day has been invented.” The article said though that the machine didn’t save labor, it saved much time and many handlings of the corn.

In ’47 Florida produced 6,000 acres of lima beans; ’66 acreage was 1,000. Florida was second to California in ’47 in celery production with 28 percent of the nation’s total; in ’66 Florida produced 34 percent of the nation’s celery. In 1947, Florida ranked third in tomatoes for fresh market and fourth in watermelon production; in ’66 she ranked first in production of both items.

Under the heading of “Minor crops today may be the major crops of tomorrow,” was this information on sweet corn: “During the current season Florida will ship large quantities of sweet corn. Five years ago it was hard to find a single commercial planting of this crop. Whether the acreage continues to expand depends upon two factors: controlling corn ear worm and producing high-quality corn. The potential demand for sweet corn is great.” Today, Florida is the nation’s leading grower of sweet corn.

And lastly, remember the weather situation in 1947? It was too hot and too wet. A series of freezes with high winds and heavy rains made the 1946-47 crop 30 percent below the prior year’s production.

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