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Hurricane Michael Update (Tim Coolong, Andre Da Silva, Bhabesh Dutta, and Greg Fonsah)

Damage to the fall vegetable industry caused by Hurricane Michael has thus far been significant for growers in Southwest Georgia.  Damage closely followed the path of the storm, with a line stretching from Seminole and Decatur counties up through Mitchell and Grady, Colquitt, Tift and even reaching fields in the Crisp county region.  Vegetable production regions near Lowndes and Echols Counties may have some loss but are expected to have escaped the worst of the damage.  Fruiting vegetables such as bell peppers, which were at or very close to harvest may not have been blown down but have suffered enough damage to foliage that sunburn will quickly damage the crop.  Tomatoes, trellised cucumbers, and eggplants were all also severely damaged.  Squash and zucchini crops saw near complete destruction in some areas while others seemed to fare okay.  Snap beans lodged due to high winds and may not be able to be harvested.  Fall sweet corn, which is planted heavily in the most affected regions of Southwest Georgia may be a complete loss in some counties due to lodging.  Even some of the early planted greens crops experienced significant wind and water damage.  Loss estimates range from 30-90% of fall vegetable crops on farms in the regions, with some growers experiencing 100% losses of certain crops.  Preliminary estimates of value losses estimated to be approximately $480 million.   However, it must be stressed that we are still evaluating fields and some of these numbers may change as we gather more information.  Due to the widespread nature of the power outages growers may not have functioning coolers or irrigation pumps, which means that secondary losses due to inability to cool and pack harvested product or to irrigate crops in the fields may climb.  In addition, disease pressure will increase on crops due to the rain and damage that plants may have received from the storm.  (Losses estimated using average yields for growers in the region and current market prices of product)

Peppers heavy with fruit are now exposed to sun and will sun burn (Photo courtesy of Dr. Andre da Silva)

 

 

        

Pictures of damage from hurricane Michael show fields of cucumber, tomatillo, and butternut squash in southwest Georgia. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Andre da Silva)