Hurricane Michael blew across southwest Georgia on Oct. 10, causing more than $2 billion in losses to the state’s agriculture industry, according to early estimates from University of Georgia Cooperative Extension agricultural economists and Extension agents.“These are our best estimates (as of Oct. 17) on information from UGA Extension agents in the field, as well as our Extension specialists,” said Laura Perry Johnson, associate dean of UGA Extension. “They have traveled many miles and seen many fields to gather this data and worked with economists to come up with these estimates. As we learn more, these estimates could change.”PECANSThe state’s pecan industry suffered a $100 million loss from this year’s crop plus $260 million in lost trees. An additional $200 million in future profits will be lost over the next decade as new orchards are planted and existing orchards are reestablished, said Lenny Wells, UGA Extension pecan specialist.Between 30 and 40 percent of the pecan trees were destroyed in Dougherty, Lee and Mitchell counties, where 30 percent of Georgia’s pecan crop is produced. In areas less severely affected by the storm, growers with trees that are still standing will be able to harvest a lot of the nuts that were blown to the ground, Wells said.Overall, Wells believes that half of Georgia’s pecan crop has been lost for this year.COTTONCotton fields that promised near-record harvest were destroyed by the hurricane; some fields in southwest Georgia have been declared a complete loss with all the cotton now blown off the plants and lying on the ground.The hurricane crushed the prospects of 1,500 to 1,800 pounds of dryland cotton for some cotton growers, who suffered losses of 80 to 90 percent in some fields.“It’s much worse than I thought it would be,” said Jared Whitaker, UGA Extension cotton agronomist. “Southwest of (Tifton, Georgia), it’s terrible, in Bainbridge and Donalsonville … pictures I’ve received from Washington County will make you feel sick.”While farmers in southeast Georgia slipped by with as little as 15 percent loss, some southwest Georgia farmers are looking at total losses in some fields, he said.“I think what we do from here on out is going to vary in a lot of places. In some places I’ve seen, I don’t think we’ll even pull a picker in there to harvest the crop. I think we lost so much cotton that it wouldn’t be profitable to even harvest it,” Whitaker said.The fact that the storm struck when the cotton was near harvest made the impact even more severe. Whitaker estimates that only 15 percent of this year’s crop was already picked before Hurricane Michael arrived, while a small portion of the crop was planted late enough to be relatively safe.Georgia cotton crop loss estimates vary widely, from $550 to $600 million in lost lint and seed.PEANUTSThe loss to Georgia’s peanut crop is estimated to be between $10 and $20 million. The hurricane dealt a devastating blow to local buying points and peanut shellers when it traveled through Bainbridge, Donalsonville, Camilla, Albany and Cordele, Georgia, which represent a significant portion of the state’s peanut-producing community.“In the western part of the state, there has been significant damage to drying shelters and elevators that will slow the harvest down. Ultimately, growers may have to field-dry peanuts until repairs are made,” said UGA Extension peanut agronomist Scott Monfort. “The loss of elevators could also cause a backlog of trailers for farmers who are trying to drop off their crop. This will again slow down harvest at a time when producers are trying to get their peanuts out of the field.”Before the storm, 40 to 45 percent of Georgia’s peanut crop was still in the field, he said. Now growers must harvest the remaining crop without losing too much in weight and quality. Some nuts will be lost due to overmaturity or disease as growers could not dig peanuts due to the storm, Monfort said.VEGETABLESGeorgia’s late summer and fall vegetable crop was also close to harvest or in the midst of harvest when Hurricane Michael arrived. The damage varies significantly across southwestern Georgia counties, but the loss is estimated at more than $480 million.Some vegetable farmers in the direct path of the storm lost close to 90 percent, while others on the edges of the storm lost around 20 to 30 percent. A 20 percent loss is quite significant for an individual farmer, said Greg Fonsah, the UGA Cooperative Extension agricultural economist who was charged with calculating the crop loss and its economic impact.Sweet corn producers, many of which were in the direct path of the storm, were hardest hit, with losses of up to 100 percent of their remaining crop. In Mitchell and Decatur counties, where the bulk of the state’s fall sweet corn is planted, much of the crop was destroyed, said Timothy Coolong, UGA Extension vegetable horticulture specialist.Because of the long growing season, southwest Georgia farmers are able to produce spring and fall crops of vegetables like tomatoes, sweet corn, eggplants, green beans, peppers, cucumbers and squash. Harvest occurs in June and October for spring and fall crops, respectively.”A lot of farmers were just starting their main harvest for fall crops when the storm hit,” Coolong said. Plants that were fully loaded with produce were pushed down by 60 mph winds with gusts from 80 to 100 mph. This phenomenon, known as lodging, not only makes produce hard to harvest, it exposes the fruit to the sun, which causes sunburn, a condition that makes the fruit unmarketable.Many of the state’s cool-season vegetables, which were just transplanted, were spared. Although some damage is expected, most of the plants were small enough to be somewhat sheltered from the hurricane’s winds.NURSERY INDUSTRYGeorgia’s nursery production industry, which produces trees and ornamental plants for landscapes across the southeast, suffered $13 million as nurseries in the southwest corner of the state were damaged.TIMBERThe Georgia Forestry Commission reported that the hurricane damaged about 2 million in acres in timberland, valued at $374 million. About 79,000 acres of forestland are a complete loss, according to Georgia Forestry Commissioner Chuck Williams.POULTRY, LIVESTOCK, TIMBER AND SOYBEANSThe poultry industry losses are estimated at $25 million in lost birds and houses. Soybean growers suffered a $10 to $20 million loss. Livestock and dairy farmers suffered infrastructure losses, like fencing and forage, but UGA Extension economists have no real estimate for livestock losses. Dairy farmers lost milk production due to power outages, which prevented them from milking cows and storing their milk safely. (UGA Extension public relations coordinators Merritt Melancon and Clint Thompson contributed to this report. This story was update Oct. 26 to reflect the latest damage estimates.)
More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?Schenectady department heads: Budget cutbacks would further stress already-stretched departmentsEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the census Categories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionIsn’t it ironic with all the nonsense going on in this country that the two teams going to the Super Bowl are named the Patriots and the Eagles. I wonder if the liberals are going to boycott the game, claiming it discriminates against teams that don’t have bigger, faster and smarter players. Just asking. Bob ManginoFt. Lauderdale, FloridaThe writer is a Schenectady resident.
Judoist Larica Cerić and football player Zvjezdan Misimović were named athletes of the year in B&H for 2013 and were chosen by Nezavisne Novine and Radio Television B&H.The winners were presented with their award last night at the traditional selection of the best athletes in B&H, which was held in Sarajevo and is taking place for 13 years in a row and organized by Nezavisne Novine.Misimović won the award thanks to the successes of the B&H football team, which will find itself next year among the best teams in the world at the Mundial in Brazil. Many have classified him as the ‘brain’ of the B&H team. His creativity in the game has often left people breathless. He ended the qualifying cycle for the World Championship with five goals and four assists. He played nine games and spent 773 minutes on the field. He has a record in the number of appearances for the B&H team with the number 80 jersey, and he made 26 goals and is in second place of the top scorers of the team, after Edin Džeko.Larisa Cerić was chosen as the best female athlete for the third time. She won her first title in 2009 and then in 2010, and in 2013 she won medals at almost all competitions in which she participated in the judo category over 78 kg. She won the bronze medal at the Mediterranean Games in Mersin and the Grand Prix in Rijeka, and won the gold medal at the European Cups in Sarajevo and Belgrade. She won gold at the European University Championship in Portugal.The best trainer was Safet Sušić, coach of the B&H football team, which was named the best team of the year.The motto for the selection of the best athletes in B&H is ‘Support to Athletes’, and in accordance with this, awards were given this year to the most promising athletes, which were athlete Ivana Macanović and judoist Harun Sadiković.The award for fair play this year went to the Handball Association of B&H, and at the World Championship for Juniors in the B&H selection transferred the equipment and helped with visas and money for transportation to B&H. The award for development of sport in B&H was also given to the B&H Handball Association because of the excellent organization of the Junior World Championship.The B&H team in sitting volleyball was named the best team for the 12th time in sports for the disabled, thanks to their defending the gold medals at the European Championship, and member of the team Safet Alibašić was named the best athlete in sport for the disabled.The Lifetime Achievement Awards were given to Boro Spasojević and posthumously to Alojz Renić.B&H athlete Hamza Alić, who won the bronze medal in Göteborg in the shot put, is this year’s winner of the Audience Award.(Source: Fena)
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