Extreme weather delivered catastrophic disasters over the last month as hurricanes brought large-sized chunks of America’s Heartland to its knees.
Hurricane Irma hammered the Florida peninsula and other southeastern states with a powerful wallop while Hurricane Harvey swirled in circles delivering Texas-sized damage to the Houston area up to Beaumont and inland to the Mid-South.
As of mid-September, estimated damage to Florida agriculture alone from Irma reported by the Florida Farm Bureau included 60-70 percent of citrus blown off trees to the ground in some areas, a major to total loss of already planted fall vegetable crops including tomatoes, 30 percent of fallen cotton plants in some places, plus scores of other farming and ranching losses.
While my heart goes out to those impacted across urban and rural landscapes, I think about the impact of Irma on top of other more recent losses to the Florida citrus industry.Years before Hurricane Irma arrived, Florida citrus growers battled the tough citrus canker disease, and today battle the tiny Asian citrus psyllid pest which vectors bacteria which causes the most deadly citrus disease on the planet – Huanglongbing (HLB) or citrus greening.
A news statement I received several weeks ago suggested that about 60 percent of Florida’s citrus industry has been severely damaged or eliminated by HLB. Now with some growers losing more than half of their processing fruit crop this year to Irma this will make it more challenging for the industry in the months and years ahead.
Thankfully for those in the business of agriculture you likely understand the fortitude and positive frame of mind agricultural people have from coast to coast. It’s similar to the saying ‘having someone’s back.’ It’s one of resilience and positive thinking – a ‘can do’ attitude. After these hurricanes, many of these folks need help rebuilding their lives and their farms.
There are many needs,…