GFVGA Executive Vice President: Georgia Producers Dodged a Bullet

Jim Rogers Georgia

By Clint Thompson

Georgia’s specialty crop producers dodged disaster when Hurricane Ian shifted eastward and headed mostly around the state this week.

Chris Butts, executive vice president of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (GFVGA), said his organization is thankful that its growers avoided the worst impact of the hurricane. But their thoughts and prayers are with their Florida farming brethren.

Chris Butts

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of our friends in Florida. While we’re certainly glad we’re going to dodge the worst of it, our hearts go out to those folks and hope and pray that the damage down there will be limited and fixable,” Butts said.

Georgia producers only have to look back to Hurricane Michael in 2018 to see its specialty crops devastated by a natural disaster.

Pecans were dealt $560 million in loss. Georgia’s late summer and fall vegetable crop was also in full swing when Hurricane Michael hit, according to the University of Georgia. The loss was estimated at more than $480 million. Some vegetable farmers in the direct path of the storm lost close to 90 percent, while others on the edges of the storm lost around 20 to 30 percent.

“The perennial crops, we saw what damage could be done to those with Hurricane Michael, and again, we’re so grateful we’re dodging that bullet. But on the annual crops, we’ve got those in the ground, too. Onion guys have sets in the ground. Our fall crops from squash and cucumbers and peppers, those are in the ground, too,” Butts said. “It was a very fortunate miss. We’ve seen what can happen in this scenario, (though), so we’re just counting our blessings that we’re not having a repeat of that scenario again.”

Feature keyphrase: Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association