Hurricane Irma Destroys Florida Citrus and Veggie Crops

First reports of Florida crop damage from Hurricane Irma were conservatively estimated at about 50 percent crop loss, but Florida Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam stated he thinks it is more in the 80-plus percent crop loss range, reports Gary Cooper (Southeast AgNet Radio Network, Gainesville, FL). “Citrus damage was in all citrus growing areas, both east and west coast. Also, veggie and specialty crops and cattle areas got hit hard.” Gary explained, “This was a huge storm and that alone added tremendous stamina and energy to it for a very wide swath that included most all of the peninsula and a good part of the panhandle on Irma’s swing through the neighborhood. Citrus folks really took it bad. Veggie damage was not as bad, only because growers were just getting the south Florida fall plantings into the ground. Planting that had been completed was a total loss, and fields have become bogs with no access.

Gary said, “Farmers will replant late with their fall crop, and the market for that crop will surely be screwed up too since everyone will be planting, and therefore harvesting about the same time. Markets are tough when it all gets picked at same exact time, instead of staggered plantings and harvests for these quick turnaround and high value crops.” Gary added, “Since Hurricane Irma came up through Florida staying over land, it saved much damage, and weakened to a Category One by the time it reached us in the Ocala and Gainesville area in north central Florida. This track also pulled the surge away from the Gulf shore in this area of the state, instead of wiping out our fishing cabin on the Gulf coast in the nearby Big Bend region. The cabin was totally spared of any damage at all. As it is, we can still have some fishing fun at the place until the ‘big one’ for that area comes along, like Irma was for the Keys.” Gary emphasized, “The Florida Keys are simply changed forever. They will never be the same as we've known them in my generation, nor will certain parts of old-timey south Florida, which had survived until now.” The good news for Gary was that his home in Ocala, FL, had no real structural damage because so many huge trees on their 10-acre farm came down early in the storm forming a perfect windbreak that protected them for the rest of the night.Gary will have a new part-time job dealing with cleanup of all the downed trees on his farm. “I plan to work through as much as I can on my own time.” Hurricane Irma significantly impacted Florida agriculture. Gary reports that Florida Farm Bureau Women’s Fund is accepting tax-deductible donations to aid in relief to Florida agriculture devastated by Hurricane Irma. For information about donations, go to: .