By Clint Thompson
North Florida agricultural leaders are still assessing damage left by Hurricane Idalia last week.
Bob Hochmuth, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) regional specialized Extension agent in Live Oak, Florida, provided an overview of what happened to the crops in the field and infrastructure on farms and in the different communities impacted by the storm last Wednesday.
“The majority of the corn was harvested, so we didn’t have that particular issue. The peanuts are going to be trouble getting out because of a lot of debris in the fields. A lot of the young, emerged carrots were destroyed. Other crops, fall vegetables, peppers, snap beans and things like that were significantly impacted, if not lost entirely,” Hochmuth said.
“In reality, yes, there are significant crop losses, but this is not a crop loss issue as much as it is the infrastructure. Two of the peanuts receiving points were crippled. We have a dilemma that even if somebody could dig the peanuts, where they normally would take them, those receiving points are not up and operating yet. There are some peanuts receiving stations that are operational. If you’re in Live Oak, you’re either going to have to go into Georgia or farther south to get peanuts delivered until those operations come back online.”
The storm came through Perry, Florida and then through a swath between Madison and Live Oak, including Dowling Park, just south, and up to Jennings, located on the Florida-Georgia line. The trail of destruction included greenhouse operations, farm buildings, barns, shops and poultry houses.
The UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center in the Suwanee Valley was also hit hard by the high winds associated with Idalia.
“The (research) center was to the east of it, so it could have been a lot worse. You couldn’t get from one end of the research center to the other right after the storm. We had a lot of roadways, field ways to clear just to get around the facility,” Hochmuth said. “We lost one greenhouse and two others damaged. For the most part, it could have been a lot worse.”