Grower group says Irma caused 50 to 70 percent citrus loss in portions of South Florida (Source cnbc.com)
More than half the citrus grown in the southern part of Florida was lost due to Hurricane Irma. “Based on reports from the field, it’s estimated that there’s a 50 to 70 percent crop loss in South Florida, depending on the region,” said Lisa Lochridge, a spokesperson for the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association. “Losses are less going north.” CNBC was told preliminary assessment of the storm showed up to 30 % of some major crops such as grapefruit had losses, according to estimates by Joel Widenor, a meteorologist and co-founder of Commodity Weather Group. As for other crops, she said there was some damage in fields where other fruits and vegetables grow in the southern and central parts of the state, particularly tomatoes and strawberries. For example the plastic ground covering and irrigation systems got ripped up by the storm, and there’s standing water in fields too. “As a result, the tomato crop is expected to be light at the first part of November, but volume should build and we expect a solid December”. “Strawberry growers expect to be able to recover quickly and stay on their timetable to be harvesting on time.”
There’s still no official reports of economic loss totals from agriculture but it could surpass $100 million, as the value of Florida’s citrus last year exceeded $1 billion. The most vulnerable citrus crop due to Irma is grapefruit because of its weight on the trees, although orange groves also suffered losses. Another crop hard hit by Irma was Florida’s sugar cane, which had a value last year of $561 million, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.