Hurricane Michael has dealt an estimated $230 to $300 million loss to Georgia’s fall vegetable shipments, according to preliminary estimates by University of Georgia agricultural specialists.
The University of Georgia report specifically cited:
***Fruiting vegetables such as bell peppers, at or very close to harvest, have suffered enough damage to foliage that sunburn will quickly damage the crop;
***Tomatoes, trellised cucumbers, and eggplants were all also severely damaged;
***Squash and zucchini crops saw near complete destruction in some areas while others seemed to fare better;
***and fall sweet corn, which is planted heavily in the most affected regions of southwest Georgia may be a complete loss in some counties.
The University of Georgia vegetable report points out damage to the fall vegetable industry caused by Hurricane Michael was significant for growers in southwest Georgia.
“It must be stressed that we are still evaluating fields and some of these numbers may change as we gather more information,” the report said. “Due to the widespread nature of the power outages growers may not have functioning coolers or irrigation pumps, which means that secondary losses due to inability to cool and pack harvested product or to irrigate crops in the fields may climb.”
In addition, the report notes disease pressure will increase on crops due to the rain and damage that plants may have received from the storm that occurred October 10-11.
Disaster report for growers will most likely be sought, according to the Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association since very few vegetable crops in the direct path of the storm will be able to be salvaged. Few if any specialty crops have crop insurance.
The University of Georgia report estimates losses range from 30 to 100 percent of fall vegetables in the state, depending upon the location.
Vegetable production regions near Lowndes and Echols Counties may have some loss but are expected to have escaped the worst of the damage.