As ag reports from different sectors in Florida roll in, it seems there are few areas that haven’t been affected by Hurricane Irma.
Ag reports continue to pour in from the various sections and commodities of Florida’s large ag industry, and it looks like Hurricane Irma handed out a sound beating to just about every sector. A Southeast Ag Farm Press article looked at the reports from UF/IFAS Extension agents concerning different crops and sections of The Sunshine State to gauge the storm’s impact. See a summary of those ag reports below.
Florida Hurricane Ag Reports by Sector
UF/IFAS agents reports include:
Okeechobee County Ag Report: “There is a lot of damage and it is hard to make accurate estimates of damage. Extrapolating numbers to the surrounding areas (about 50 dairies in south Florida), there could be in excess of $16,000,000 of damages; additional losses of animals and production could be $400,000 per day depending on weather and continued loss of power. Additional fuel expense could be $40,000 per day, again depending on the length of time without power. Some dairies will lose generators because of overuse. Forage crops have been affected by wind and water, but it is difficult to know which ones will recover.” -Reported by Anita Neal, UF/IFAS Extension South District director – Sept. 12.
Pinellas County Report: “A team of us in Pinellas County will be helping the park rangers cleanup county parks tomorrow and probably the rest of the week to help get them ready to hopefully be open on Saturday.” -Reported by Lara Milligan, UF/IFAS Extension Pinellas County agent – Sept. 12.
Seminole Tribe Land Ag Report: “100 percent of 600 acres of sugar cane in Brighton is leveled and underwater just north of Lake Okeechobee. Little damage to cattle, but calving season has begun. ±14,000 Brighton and ±10,000 Big Cypress improved pasture acres are underwater. Calves born onto flooded ground and forage under water will create significant financial loss for ranchers. Significant damage to pasture culverts and solar wells on both reservations. Crews out repairing miles of perimeter fences. Interior fences will be inspected once water recedes. In the 600 Citrus acres at Brighton there is 50 to 60 percent fruit drop. The Brighton hog farm facility and 4-H show pavilion have been destroyed.” -Reported by UF/IFAS Extension Seminole Tribe of Florida.
Hendry County Ag Report: “Around Immokalee and LaBelle, 50 to 60 percent of the fruit has been blown off the trees and is floating in flood waters. Groves are extensively flooded and growers are having difficulty removing the water because the retention areas are also flooded. In some cases, dikes are breaking and releasing the water back into the grove. Even where the dikes are holding, there’s no place to put the water, so they’re having a slow go of removing water. This is going to result in long-term damage to trees. We’re also seeing widespread damage to buildings, power outages and internal farm roads washed away, so road repairs will be necessary. Some power units have been damaged, and electrical power is out in most places with extensive damage to power lines.” Reported by Gene McAvoy, UF/IFAS Extension Hendry County director – Sept. 12.
Pasco County Reports: “I have been in touch with most of our large producers in Pasco. Most are reporting little to no damage. I am currently touring the county to speak with others where possible. One blueberry producer, Frogmore Fresh in Dade City, was hit very hard. They have over 100,000 plants down. I was searching for 30 to 40 people to help get plants reset as their help left prior to the storm. Based on a suggestion from Nick Place, I am trying to coordinate a group of 4-Hers and some from FFA to go out Thursday and Friday to assist.” Reported by Whitney Elmore, UF/IFAS Extension Pasco County director – Sept. 12.
Central Florida Ag Reports: “I traveled down from Winter Haven to Arcadia (65 miles) this morning and saw lots of flooding issues near wet, low areas. Many rivers are way above their banks. The Peace River is at record highs. Many pastures in low area are with standing water. A lot of power lines are damaged in some areas. However, some areas have power between Winter Haven and Arcadia. Hwy 17, a major north/south road, is closed due to flooding. The travel time is usually 1.5 hours but had to go around the flooded areas which added 45 minutes to the travel. Hwy 17 was not closed back with Hurricane Charlie went through the area. We received about 9 inches at my house on Sunday/Monday. Flooding will continue for some time.
Regarding the citrus crop, as you approach the path of the storm, the damage increased with dropped fruit and in some places you can easily see overturned trees.
The injury to the crop can be as high as 50 percent or more loss where close to the storm or more on the east side of the storm than the west side path. While I stated 50 percent or more, that will vary with many factors and could easily be higher where a tornado impacted the area. It would be impossible to state the total damage from the storm to the entire citrus industry as some areas received more or less damage.
Many of the areas that are in the process of planting fall crops (tomato, strawberry, etc.) will be impacted due to high water and very wet soils that will impact the bedding process. Reported by Citrus Steve Futch, UF/IFAS Extension regional citrus agent – Sept. 12.
Highlands County Ag Reports: “Highlands County, Sebring at least, looks pretty good. Just got back from a ride. Hwy 27 is open through Sebring a lot of power lines and poles down. According to Highlands County EOC, 90 percent of Highlands County is without power I fear we are all without power for quite a while.
I am hearing that there are a lot (one guy said tons) of round oranges on the ground. Killing me, had the best-looking crop coming on that we have had in a while. For any of you that are growers I hear there are crop adjusters getting into the field starting tomorrow. Contact your adjuster soon!!
Above all we are safe and together so that is all that matters. Keep in touch and stay safe.” Reported by Laurie Hurner, UF/IFAS Extension Highlands County – Sept. 11.
St. Johns County Ag Reports: “All but one from the UF/IFAS Extension St. Johns county office have reported. Lots of broken limbs and downed trees. One person had a tree fall on their boat shed and another lost some of their roof, but everyone that reported was fine. I’m not sure about the flooding in St. Augustine. I’ve heard it was worse than Matthew which was bad. Our office is currently being used as a shelter for a nursing home. The County is closed tomorrow, not sure when we’ll get back to our offices.” Reported by Tim Wilson, UF/IFAS Extension St. Johns County – Sept. 11.
Ag reports will continue to be on-going as people assess the damage and start repairs and clean-up efforts.
Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.