Hurricane Irma Damage Report from Gulf Citrus Growers

Tacy Callies Citrus

Ron Hamel, Gulf Citrus Growers Association executive vice president, says it has been difficult to reach area growers in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma due to the lack of power. At this point, he says, people are busy assessing the damage to the citrus crop and trying to get standing water out of groves.

Gulf citrus

Ron Hamel

Hamel says Collier and Hendry county groves received a great deal of wind and rain. “There is quite a bit of fruit on the ground,” reports Hamel. However, he thinks “most of the trees have done pretty well.”

He says lots of leaves got stripped from the trees, but most trees are still in the ground. “When Hurricane Wilma hit here, Wilma laid a lot of trees over … we are not seeing that (with Irma).”

One affect of Irma that surprised Hamel was the loss of Valencia fruit. “There were a lot of sized-up Valencias that hit the ground,” he says, noting the fruit was already baseball-sized. “It was something I wouldn’t have thought, but it’s reality.”

Hamel spoke yesterday with Mongi Zekri, multi-county citrus Extension agent. Zekri told him that almost all of his fruit is on the ground in Lehigh Acres, and that he has never seen anything like it. Hamel says Zekri is trying to get a handle on the citrus situation statewide.

Based on what Hamel is hearing so far, his early estimate is that Florida growers probably lost half of the citrus crop statewide.

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About the Author

Tacy Callies

Editor of Citrus Industry magazine