Georgia Department of Agriculture

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Assesses Crop and Production Damage from Hurricane Matthew


Georgia Department of Agriculture
Gary W. Black, Commissioner
19 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. SW
Atlanta, GA 30334

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Press Release
Thursday, October 13, 2016
Office of Communications

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Assesses Crop and Production Damage from Hurricane Matthew

Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary W. Black joined Georgia Farm Bureau President Gerald Long to tour farming operations in Tattnall, Screven and Evans counties in an effort to assess damage acquired by Hurricane Matthew.

“After surveying the damage I think it is safe to say that it is certainly not as bad as it could have been, but it is quite a bit worse than we expected it to be,” Commissioner Black said.

Pecans were one of the hardest hit commodities in the region, with many farmers losing up to one third of their operation. Many of the downed pecan trees were over 100 years old, and it takes at least seven years for a new tree to start producing.

“It was truly devastating to see our farmers facing the situation they are in. This will not just be a one-year hit, but a long-term effect that will take years for our growers to overcome,” said President Long. “We at Farm Bureau will continue to work with the department to do anything we can to assist these farmers.”

The cotton crop was also vulnerable to the storm, especially those fields that were near harvest. The high winds drove much of the fiber to the ground for a total loss, or tangled the cotton making it much harder to extract clean lint during the ginning process. The quality was also affected by the soaking rains, resulting in less desirable lint which will fetch a less than desirable price.

Hurricane Matthew caused challenges for Vidalia onion growers as well. The wind and rain damaged some seed beds forcing farmers to find alternative sources for plants.

“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.”

Photos available by request.


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