Marijuana Crop Suffers in Drought, FDLE Says

Discussion in 'Marijuana News from The USA' started by Superjoint, Feb 21, 2001.

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  1. By Neil Johnson of The Tampa Tribune
    Source: Tampa Tribune

    Nearly three years of drought that hammered the state\'s agriculture industry also hit another group of farmers - the ones tending Florida\'s marijuana crop.
    Last year, police seized the fewest number of marijuana plants in the 19 years of Florida\'s effort to eradicate outdoor marijuana farming. A preliminary report by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement shows 39,219 outdoor marijuana plants were seized in 2000, says Jennifer McCord, spokeswoman for the agency.

    That doesn\'t include plants found at indoor growing operations.

    In 1999, deputies, police and FDLE agents across the state found 56,838 marijuana plants growing outdoors, she says.

    Police found fewer plants last year, even though they raided more sites - 860 in 2000 compared to 573 in 1999.

    ``The numbers have nose dived in the last three years,\'\' says Dave Broadway, former FDLE statewide coordinator for the outdoor marijuana eradication program.

    The drought\'s effect on illegal growers is exactly the same as legitimate farmers, especially those with crops such as peanuts, cotton and corn that aren\'t irrigated.

    ``Corn and soybean crops are practically down to nothing,\'\' says Bob Blankenship, economic researcher for the state Department of Agriculture.

    Last year, 18 percent of the 130,000 acres of cotton was left in the field, the yield so low it was not worth harvesting, he says.

    The dry weather is especially hard on marijuana, a plant that lacks an extensive root system.

    ``A cannabis plant only has an 8-inch tap root,\'\' Broadway says. ``It doesn\'t compete very well for water. It\'s hard to keep them alive.\'\'

    Rather than rely on rain to water their clandestine crop, marijuana growers have to somehow irrigate their plants without being discovered.

    ``If farmers are having trouble irrigating a legitimate crop, think how difficult it is if you have to do it in secret,\'\' Broadway says.

    Under the harsh conditions, just about any marijuana plant growing outdoors is a tended plant rather than one that sprouted from discarded seeds.

    ``Nothing you find in Florida is ditch weed,\'\' Broadway says.

    The crop of homegrown marijuana in Florida is usually higher in quality than imported marijuana and can command higher prices.

    ``This does help keep the highest-quality cannabis off the street,\'\' Broadway says.

    The FDLE uses what Broadway calls a conservative estimate of $1,000 per plant to place a value on the uprooted crop, meaning last year\'s seizures were valued at $39.2 million.

    The poor weather may be driving some outdoor growers inside, though the numbers on indoor marijuana seizures have stayed fairly steady.

    The Panhandle, with its open space and a population familiar with agriculture, used to see the heaviest concentration of outdoor marijuana growing.

    That\'s shifted now to north Central Florida.

    Last year, the most plants - 6,002 - were seized in Orange County.

    In Hillsborough, police found 553 plants. Pinellas authorities seized 352, and officers in Polk found 40 plants, McCord says.

    Neil Johnson covers water issues and the weather and can be reached at (352) 544-5214 or njohnson@tampatrib.com

    Source: Tampa Tribune (FL)
    Author: Neil Johnson of The Tampa Tribune
    Published: February 21, 2001
    Copyright: 2001 The Tribune Co.
    Contact: tribletters@tampatrib.com
    Website: http://www.tampatrib.com/
    Forum: http://tampabayonline.net/interact/welcome.htm
     
  2. I never knew FL was that dry for the last few years...This is the first time I have found myself not wanting to goto FL this summer...Amsterdam here I come! :D
     

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