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Hurricane Irma Aftermath 2017

Early reports suggest that damage to the plants from wind may include toppled plants, broken stems, and loss of leaves. However, rains were heavy and reported to be upwards of 8.5 inches over a 48 hr period in our prime blueberry growing regions of southern Georgia. Many plantings may have been inundated, which increases the opportunity for root rots. Damage from ‘Irma’ may not be noted for quite some time, but if you have been flooded, a proactive approach may minimize long term damage to your planting.

Renée Allen, Area Blueberry Agent, Bacon County, GA, has sent out the following statement:

“Whether fungicides are needed or not will be situational. If your field or areas of your field, do not drain well and there was standing water for a long period of time, then it may warrant a root rot fungicide application. If you have not applied a root rot fungicide, such as Prophyt, K-phite, etc, this season, you may want to consider an application.  Check out your blueberry root systems. If you have dead, necrotic roots and the root sheath is easily detached from the root, this is indicative of root rot. Broken limbs and laid over plants are other items to consider.  Like with the freeze, extensive damage, may warrant a fungicide application.  Removal of excess plant debris, such as broken limbs, leaf litter, etc, is always ideal because it will lessen the number of overwintering sites for various fungi. Again, it really depends on your situation and what your disease management program has looked like up to this point as well.”

As of this post, I have not heard from growers about the extent of damage to equipment, buildings, and on-farm infrastructure. Here is a way to have that information accounted for. Kathy Taylor, USDA Senior Risk Management Specialist, is compiling information on crop damage to blueberry by hurricane Irma for the Secretary of Agriculture. If you would kindly send damage assessments to either:

Kathryn Taylor, PhD

Senior Risk Management Specialist
Valdosta Regional Office
106 Patterson St., Suite 250
Valdosta, GA  31601
229-242-7235 x221 (office)


Erick Smith
Assistant Professor/ Fruit Extensionist
University of Georgia – Tifton Campus
2360 Rainwater Rd., Tifton, GA 31793 (mailing)
Dept Ph 229-386-7495


Contact your local county agent.

We would appreciate your cooperation in identifying crop damage from hurricane Irma and being able to pass that information to Dr. Sonny Perdue.

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About Erick Smith

Dr. Smith has an 80% extension and 20% research appointment in fruit production for southern Georgia. His responsibilities include providing leadership to the blueberry educational programs of southern Georgia. He assists county extension agents and commercial blueberry growers in production oriented material. His research interests are focused on plant nutrition, blueberry establishment, and production improvement. In blueberry and other commercial fruit crops, Dr. Smith is working to research and educate through collaborative efforts that include, but not exclusive to, leaders from the fields of plant pathology, entomology, physiology, and engineering to bring a rounded approach to problem solving.