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Irma leaves Florida ag reeling


9/20/2017 1:44:53 PM


Florida agriculture took a hard hit from Irma. The Florida Farm Bureau (FFB) reports that early estimates suggest the total cost of the storm for agriculture will be in the billions.

At least 60 percent of green fruit was knocked off trees in the main citrus growing region. Standing water has blocked farmers' access to fields, cattle and groves. Farmers who had planted fall vegetables, such as tomatoes, report a near-total loss.

FFB says ornamental plant growers indicate many greenhouses and shade covers were either partially standing or unusable. Some nursery owners say less than 50 percent of their plants are marketable.

In Hendry County, just east of Fort Myers, and Glades County, north of Hendry, Irma left hundreds of sugarcane plants submerged in water, buried in the ground or blown away. Palm Beach County sugarcane appears to be shredded, but farmers there say new growth is possible, giving hope for a partial harvest.

Across Florida, standing water is preventing farmers accessing their fields, groves and cattle pastures. In east Florida's Brevard County, an estimated 50,000 acres of ranchland is flooded, likely imposing a weight loss in calves shipped for processing.

Farmers across the state are faced with repairing or replacing irrigation systems, machinery and other infrastructure damaged by the storm.

To see a video of the impact at Butler Oaks Dairy, click here.


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