More than a week after Hurricane Idalia hit the Southeastern U.S., growers and shippers continue to assess the impact of the weather event.
Georgia: “A lot of our folks missed the worst of the storm,” says Chris Butts of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association. “However we did have a concentration of growers in the Lake Park area not far from Valdosta that was very, very hard hit. Buildings down, power down and then lots of crop destruction as well. It’s fall vegetable crops there so it’s a lot of pepper, squash and cucumbers.”
In the short term, the immediate concerns were things like loss of power and the resulting loss of irrigation. “There were newly planted fall crops in the ground and whatever the storm didn’t damage, we were worried about not being able to irrigate and losing whatever was left,” he says. Meanwhile, power is being restored fairly quickly and that situation is improving.
“On the crop damage, it’s going to take a little time,” he says, noting growers are reporting everything from plants being blown out of the ground and stripped of leaves to some just being laid over with lesser damage. “It’s going to take some time to tell. Some crops may be partly salvageable though with highly affected yields,” Butts says. “There’s a concentration there that was filling that early fall need and it’s a fair amount of acreage so it’s now going to have to come from somewhere.”
Meanwhile, the association continues to encourage growers to document as much as they can and get in touch with their local USDA offices. “Get thorough records and documentation of the damage and if disaster relief programs come about later, then they can participate in those programs,” Butts says.
Florida: “For a very limited number of growers, there was significant damage, but that is a unique part of the state that is less densely populated,” says Christina Morton with the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association. “The majority of specialty crop growers saw no impacts. The timing of our season--which runs November-early summer--and the storm’s path helped on that front.”
The association also continues to assess the impacts of Hurricane Idalia via a survey from the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).
For more information:
Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association
Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association