More Information about Osceola County Agricultural Lands
Ranching is the main agriculture enterprise in the county. The state of Florida is the sixth leading producer of beef cattle in the United States and Osceola County is the leading producing county in the state of Florida. Of the 580,258 acres of agriculture, 556,438 acres are used for ranching. Osceola County is also home of the largest ranch east of the Mississippi River. The Deseret Ranch consists of approximately 300,000 acres with 184,400 acres in Osceola County. The climate and the topography make ranching possible here. The warm climate and abundant rainfall help various grasses grow most of the year. The topography consisting of many lakes, marshes, piney flatwoods and the prairie along the Kissimmee River are ideal conditions for raising cattle. The county has a vivid history of the ranching families as they settled Osceola County in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Citrus has also played an important role in agriculture with approximately 13,807 acres in the county. As the state grew around the turn of the century, oranges became the main cash crop for the farmers of the state. The topography also helped the citrus industry here. Citrus grows best in sandy, well-draining soil. The western part of the county is part of the Lake Wales Ridge. This area is comprised of hilly, sandy soils ideal for citrus trees. The mid and southern parts of the county also have areas of sandy soils where groves are planted. The citrus industry peaked in the late 60s and early 70s in Osceola County. Several bad freezes and the impact of tourism in the ridge area has caused citrus to decline here.
The commercial sod industry is a relatively new agricultural industry in Osceola County. It started as a way for ranchers to supplement income when the cattle prices declined. When central Florida began to grow, there was a need for sod in the new developments. Since most of the Bahia grasses used for grazing were the same as used for yards, it was logical for the large ranches to cut sod. In the past several decades, there have been several improvements in grasses for sod purposes. The introduction of St. Augustine and Floritam grasses has allowed some ranches to grow fields of commercial sod.
There are also various other agriculture enterprises in the county. These include tropical fish, winter vegetables, ornamental plants and timber. These are usually small enterprises; however, they do provide agriculture income and jobs for the county.
Osceola County environment has a biological diversity that is found only in our state. There are sub-species of animals common to this area such as the Osceola Turkey, gopher tortoise and scrub jay. Osceola county also has the largest population of nesting bald eagles in the eastern United States. Other animals include white-tailed deer, armadillo, otters, raccoons, opossums and numerous types of birds. Because of the biological diversity in the county, the State of Florida has acquired 102,500 acres through several land preservation programs. Most of the land is found in three wildlife management areas. These are Bull Creek, Triple N Ranch and Three lakes. There is also 5,141 acres that the Nature Conservancy maintains to protect the environment.
The lakes in our county are among the best bass fishing lakes in the world. Many tourists come to our county with hopes to land the “Big One”. The Water Management Districts in our county also have acquired land around several of these lakes to maintain the fragile native habitat and insure the future water quality.
- Recommended size for pasture or grazing land is 20 acres or more or used in conjunction with contiguous parcels.
- The property must be fenced.
- An indicated effort must be made to maintain and care sufficiently and adequately for this type of land. (i.e. fertilizing, liming, tilling, disking, mowing and other accepted agricultural practices).
- Regarding livestock in relation to size of parcel. The capability of soil and available forage is considered as to the carrying capacity for livestock for individual parcels. Each stands on its own merit.
- If property is leased, the lease must be in effect as of January 1st. Please furnish the Property Appraiser’s office with a copy of the lease.
- Recommended size is 10 acres or used in conjunction with other contiguous parcels.
- Property must be used exclusively for production and harvesting.
- If property is leased, the lease must be in effect as of January 1st. Please provide the Property Appraisers office with a copy of the lease.
- Recommended size is 10 acres of planted trees or used in conjunction with other parcels.
- Land must be planted by January 1st.
- An indicated effort must have been made to maintain and care sufficiently and adequately for this type of land. ex: fertilizing, disking, herbiciding, mowing and other accepted agricultural practices.
- Please provide Property Appraiser’s office the number of trees per acre, the variety of citrus, effective age of the grove, and average yield per year.
- If irrigated, please provide the Property Appraiser’s office with a description of the type of irrigation.
- If the property is leased, the lease must be in effect as of January 1st. Please provide the Property Appraiser’s office with a copy of the lease.