Peace River Citrus Damage from Hurricane Irma

Tacy Callies Weather

Peace RiverSteve Smith, executive director of the Peace River Valley Citrus Growers Association, says he is getting a mixed bag of reports on Hurricane Irma damage from growers in his area.

Peace River

Steve Smith

“Some growers are calling in with limited damage with a few pieces of fruit on the ground, and others are saying heavy damage and trees pushed over on the outside edges — some up to 50 percent crop on the ground,” says Smith.

Right now, people are trying to get around to all their groves to get some broad assessments, explains Smith. “They’re trying to see where they need to start and then go back and get more accurate counts.”

Smith says both the wind and rain caused problems for growers. “There is some pretty serious flooding around Joshua Creek. A lot of the creeks are up and out of the banks. That’s probably one of the biggest problems right now.” He says the area was pretty wet just prior to the hurricane, so Irma exacerbated matters.

As for the effects of the wind, Smith says there is more fruit on the ground than trees. “There are some trees down, especially older ones in outside rows. The younger trees have definitely fared a little better than the bigger, older trees.”

Smith encourages citrus growers to take pictures and document the damage they have.

“It’s frustrating. We felt like we had some momentum going and maybe a little better crop, and then we get this right up through the middle of the state. It impacted pretty much every area of the Citrus Belt,” laments Smith. “But we’ll fight through it, just like we do everything else.”

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About the Author

Tacy Callies

Editor of Citrus Industry magazine