By Clint Thompson
Hurricane Ian’s impact on South Carolina was felt worse in counties along the Atlantic Coast, though the storm provided the state with much needed rainfall.
Bruce McLean, Clemson Extension area commercial horticulture agent in the Pee Dee Region, said specialty crop growers were fortunate there was not any worse damage than what occurred.
“For the most part I think we were pretty lucky. We had minimal damage, especially inland and came through it really well for the most part,” McLean said. “Honestly, I think the hurricane brought a lot of beneficial rain for us because we were really dry.”
The main threat to vegetables were brassica plants that were recently planted.
“With us going into the fall, that’s our big fall crop is brassicas. (Hurricane Ian) came in at about the time a lot of folks had just got transplants out. The transplants are really vulnerable to wind damage,” McLean said. “They’ve not had enough time to be in the ground and established long enough to building up a strong stem.”
Another potential threat was to the state’s peach trees, though growers had already concluded harvesting this year’s crop.
“Luckily, we didn’t have any crop on the trees for the most part. Most of our peach-producing region really did not get hit that hard. A large grower up on the other side of Darlington, we rode around and looked at some various things, and there’s about 1,000 acres of peaches up there. We did not see any damage at all. I asked him, ‘How bad did it get?’ He said, ‘Probably 30 mile per hour winds, a little bit of rain,’” McLean said. “He said the biggest problem he had, because he does some agritourism as well, he had part of his corn maze blown down. I guess he’s probably a good 70 miles inland, so he was well away from the coast and really didn’t experience any significant problems.”
There were reports of nut drop in some pecan orchards, though tree loss/orchard damage was minimal. It put a damper on a promising crop for this season.
“We had one heck of a pecan crop this year. We were starting to get some pecan scab that was coming on really late, but the crop looked really good,” he added. “We had a considerable amount of loss from nut drop, just from wind damage.”