Crop loss estimates are starting to filter in following Hurricane Ian’s impact in late September. The damages are devastating for some specialty crop producers, according to the South Florida Pest and Disease Hotline.
Vegetable crop losses were high in the Hillsborough/Manatee area. Some locations experienced flooding, while others had wind damage. Assessments show losses between 50% and 100% in planted crops.
Crop losses in Southwest Florida ranged from medium to high. Wind damage was the main culprit for crop loss, though flooding was an issue in some low-lying fields. Total losses due to wind damage were observed in Lee and Charlotte counties. Early plantings of direct seeded crops were washed out in Collier and Hendry counties. Tomato, squash, young watermelon and young pepper plantings were impacted, with early assessments indicating losses between 40% to 75%.
Crop losses ranged from medium to high in the Everglades Agricultural Area. Planted acres were lower than normal, due to increased rainfall prior to the storm. Primary losses were a result of the inability to pump water out of the fields. Leafy vegetables were flooded in some areas.
Some bean crops were completely destroyed on the east coast, as flooding will delay planting of other crops. Plastic was lost in some fields, and sandblasting occurred on the ends of beds.
Crop losses were mostly low in Homestead. Wet conditions led to uneven stands in direct seeded crops. Transplants are hit or miss depending on their location across South Florida.