Many southeastern growers are facing unique circumstances due to Hurricane Irma in September.
Florida Representative Rick Roth from Palm Beach County spoke about the hurricane with AgNet Media’s Josh McGill at Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association’s annual convention. He says the time following Hurricane Irma that consisted of no rainfall helped Palm Beach County dry up the flooding issues caused by the hurricane. This was beneficial to help growers get back to work in their fields for vegetable and sugarcane production.
Roth said a concern with sugarcane production is the ability to harvest the crop without uprooting it, because with sugar cane, once it is harvested, it is grown for at least the next year. “If you harvest sugarcane and you pull up the roots, you lose next year’s crop,” he said.
Pam Knox, an agricultural climatologist at the University of Georgia, said Hurricane Irma had effects on many major industries within the Southeast.
Knox does not estimate a large loss for Florida’s winter vegetables because many vegetables had not yet been planted. There may, however, be a delay in the crop due to growers having to re-prepare for planting. Many Florida vegetable growers had already placed plastic to keep out weeds during the growing season, so this will have to be redone, possibly causing a delay in the crop production, she said.
Georgia pecans will face a large loss from the storm, Knox estimated. She said that because it was already supposed to be a good year for pecan growers, this loss will not be as prominent as it could have been. Many of the pecans were blown from the trees, while some of the trees were knocked down entirely.
Cotton was also lost due to the winds of the hurricane, Knox said. The plants with the bolls already opened had a lot of the cotton blown away, and many that were still closed were on plants blown over.
Not every crop was harmed from the hurricane, however. Extra rainfall from the storm was beneficial to the peanut industry, Knox said.
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