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Seminole County’s agriculture situation in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael

Peanuts

Peanuts do not seem to have been hurt by Hurricane Michael. I know we have a few cases in the county where already dug peanuts were blown and washed around, but surprisingly no major losses. I will say stay on top of peanut maturity and disease pressure which can cause undue losses this late in the season. If you are late getting to digging peanuts because of the hurricane, slowing down the digger can help reduce digging losses. I would suggest looking at digging closer to 1-1.5 mph if you are way behind digging.

Cotton

Cotton, as we all already know, took a massive kick to the teeth, and very little had been picked prior to Hurricane Michael. Seminole County grows a little over 25,000 acres annually and this year’s crop was going to be worth over $23,000,000 to county farmers. It is very hard to see the industry impacted after knowing how hard it will be for farmers to make it happen this year. A lot of our cotton was defoliated prior to the storm and there was very little we could do to save it. Even cotton that had not been defoliated has been now.  I currently estimate we have lost over 75% of the cotton in Seminole County, and this number really depends on how many green bolls open up in the next week or so. The cotton that can be picked this year will have lower yields, and be very difficult to pick. The defoliation process has pretty much been done for us, so the bolls that were not open during the hurricane should open soon. For those fields that can be picked: timeliness, patience during the harvest, and controlling regrowth are the keys.

Pecan

Pecan trees really took a beating during the storm. Unlike peanuts and cotton, it takes at least five years to establish pecan trees, and they really do not start turning a profit until a few years after that. I estimate over 85% of the mature trees were lost in the hurricane. I have no clue how much was harvested prior to the hurricane, but losses after are going to probably be 100%, because I do not think the limbs can be cleared without ruining the yield that has already fallen on the ground. Pecan producers need to get in touch with FSA and their insurance company prior to removing limbs or clearing orchards.

Soybeans

I estimate Seminole County had ~3,000 acres of ultra-late soybeans in the field. The yields so far this year had looked very promising prior to the hurricane. Currently, I am not sure how bad the storm hurt the yields. I know we should not expect to gain yield from here on out, so we need to focus on saving yield. Some of the leaves are still on the plants and I have seen a few trying to stand back up. I should have a better idea of yield loss next week. I will say that if the beans do not stand back up, yield losses will be higher due to the ability for the operator to get the beans in the header of the combine.  

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