Florida growers are doing what they can to prepare for Hurricane Irma. As the storm quickly approaches, vegetable growers in southwest Florida are thinking about the possible damage ahead.
Calvin Arnold, center director at the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center, says growers have been working to get ready for their fall crop. He says that most growers have done the work of raising the beds and laying the plastic mulch, and some growers already have transplants in the ground. However, strong winds and rainfall from Hurricane Irma may push production back.
Arnold says that Irma will most likely blow plastic mulch off the beds and may cause damage to any transplants already in the field. Furthermore, flooding is a concern for growers facing this storm. Depending on the amount of rainfall Irma brings, it could destroy the beds that have been built. Unfortunately, this means the growers will have to redo the work they have already done. “This can be very costly to the vegetable industry from that standpoint,” Arnold says.
Depending on the severity of the damage, the crop harvest may be pushed back, which brings other consequences. The amount of work needed after the storm could delay the marketing season, which will affect prices. “Areas further north will start coming in trying to compete with the southern crop,” Arnold explains.
However, Arnold reminds growers that the situation could be worse. Although they have already invested time and money into their fall crop, the crops are not in the ground just yet. “At least they haven’t invested a lot in growing the crop yet,” he says.
Arnold does not have any advice beyond what growers already know. He says the best things they can do are dehydrate fields as best they can using diesel fuel pumps and secure any loose objects around the farm.
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