Evaluating Sorrel (Hibiscus sabdariffa) Varieties for Production in Florida

Project Overview

OS21-146
Project Type: On-Farm Research
Funds awarded in 2021: $19,708.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2023
Grant Recipient: University of Florida
Region: Southern
State: Florida
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Norma Samuel
UF/IFAS Extension

Commodities

  • Vegetables: hibiscus roselle

Practices

  • Crop Production: varieties and cultivars
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems

    Proposal abstract:

    The goal of this study is to evaluate four varieties of sorrel to determine agronomic practices for successful production in Florida and economic viability as an alternative crop. Specific objectives:

    • Objective 1: To evaluate the production of sorrel in Florida.
    • Objective 2: To determine cost of production and economic viability.
    • Objective 3: To develop and distribute educational materials on sorrel production practices as part of an Extension and outreach effort.
    • Objective 4: To increase seed availability of best performing varieties.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    A completely randomized block design will be used for this project. Plants will be spaced 3 feet between plants within row (33 feet row length), 6 feet between rows (18 feet per block) to allow for cultivation and harvest of the fruiting branches (Matthew, et al, 2011). There will be four rows per block, one for each variety being evaluated with 12 plants per row for a total of 192 plants. A distance of eight feet will be between each block. There will be a 3 feet buffer around the plot. Total area is 3,978 square feet (38’ x 102’)

    Seeds will be started in a greenhouse using protocols for growing vegetables. Seed germination time can be reduced from over a week to three days by scarifying the seed coat. This ensures uniform germination (Matthew & Zimmerman, 2010). From seed germination to a transplantable seedling takes four to five weeks. Seedlings will be manually transplanted. 

    Objective 1: To evaluate the production of sorrel in Florida.

    On-farm trials will be conducted on an organic farm and a conventional farm in Central Florida. Four varieties will be evaluated in 2021. In 2022, evaluation will be made in the same locations with modifications based on 2021 findings, including a four week difference in planting dates to determine its effect on other production factors. Data will be collected on the following for each variety:

    • Insect, disease, weed, and or nematode problems – plots will be scouted weekly.
    • Plant development – measurements will be taken on plant height and width, time to first bloom
    • Yield – length and width of calyces, weight with and without seed boll

    Data will be analyzed using ANOVA.

    Objective 2: To determine cost of production and economic viability.

    • Cost of materials needed for production
    • Labor costs – planting, crop maintenance, harvesting
    • Profit and loss calculations

    Objective 3: To develop and distribute educational materials on sorrel production practices as part of an Extension and outreach effort.

    A field day will be organized in Years 1 & 2. These will be timed to occur after the second harvest. The field days will introduce farmers and Extension personnel to the botany of the crop, demonstrate production practices utilized, and preliminary yield data. The findings will be published in a factsheet, infographics, article in industry magazines such as Berry/Vegetable Times. Findings will also be presented at the Extension Professionals Association of Florida (EPAF), the National Association of County Agriculture Agents (NACAA), and Florida Horticultural Society annual meetings.

    Objective 4: To increase seed availability of best performing varieties.

    In order to develop a source of available seeds for farmers within the state, seeds will be saved from each of the varieties. Sample packets from those determined to be the best performers will be made available to farmers attending field days in 2022 who are interested in planting sorrel.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.