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Monday, September 25, 2017
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Sept. 25 - Commissioner Black and Secretary Perdue Assess Damage from Hurricane Irma

Savannah Business Journal Staff Report

September 25, 2017 - Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary W. Black joined U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to survey the damage to pecan and row crops from Hurricane Irma late last week. The tour included operations in Peach, Berrien and Colquitt counties.

 Pecans were one of the hardest hit commodities with an expected thirty percent loss statewide.  The main concern for the industry long term is tree loss, with many farmers reporting a loss of over 5,000 mature trees. 

“These losses are much bigger and greater than just this one crop year,” Commissioner Black said.  “Our farmers will certainly feel an immediate impact to their bottom line, but the greater concern is the generational impact.  These pecan trees are not something you can replant next year and turn around and harvest. You are looking at least a seven year gap from input to output.” 

The Secretary and Commissioner also assessed damage to fall vegetables and cotton.  Early damage assessments for cotton currently stand at approximately ten percent; however those estimates could rise. In many cases the winds from Irma twisted or tangled the cotton which could lead to issues of boll rot and make it much harder to extract clean lint during the ginning process. 

“It can be hard to quantify damages in situations like these. The losses that occur are not always clear-cut.” Black said. “Anytime you have a major disruption to the production cycle, you are going to have a cost associated with it as well”

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