Sugarcane is by far the largest crop, recently covering about 65% of the EAA. Other crops are sod (lawn grass) and vegetable crops such as beans, lettuce, celery, corn, radishes, and rice. EAA soils are naturally rich in nitrogen but low in phosphorus. Soil subsidence has been a major concern since its initial drainage and development.
A typical field in the EAA is 40 acres and configured in a rectangle a half-mile long by an eighth-mile wide. The long sides of each field are bordered by ditches connected by adjustable gates through a low dike to 15-foot-wide canals that border the ends of the fields. The canals connect to larger canals of the regional system, from which water can be added or removed by pumps. This configuration allows growers to control the groundwater level or flooding in each field.
For sugarcane, a tall tropical grass, the water level is controlled about 20 inches below the surface for the year that the crop is growing, including one summer rainy season. Sugarcane is planted in the fall or winter, and is harvested the first time about a year later, most harvesting done from October into March. The mature field is burned to remove unwanted foliage, and the stalks then cut near ground level and removed for processing.