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Millions of acres of Florida field crops and forest impacted by Michael

Millions of acres of Florida field crops and forest impacted by Michael
Posted at 6:14 AM, Oct 16, 2018
and last updated 2019-10-02 09:35:06-04

(WTXL) - More than one million acres of field crops and 3.6 million acres of upland forest in Florida were potentially impacted by Hurricane Michael, economists said.

No dollar amount of losses has been affixed yet to Michael's damages to agricultural and natural resources industries operating in Florida's Panhandle, said economists with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

The economists have begun gathering information to develop formal estimates of damages inflicted by Michael.

The most serious impacts affect a core of 200,000 acres of crops in Bay, Gulf, Franklin, Liberty, Calhoun, Washington, Jackson and Gadsden counties, said Alan Hodges, director of the UF/IFAS Economic Impact Assessment Program.

He said that, within the core area, winds were recorded in the Category 3 and 4 hurricane range, corresponding with speeds of 111 to 156 miles per hour.

Panhandle areas that produce horticultural crops, such as winter vegetables, fruit and nut trees, and ornamental plants, are still being assessed.

Florida's 2018 cotton crop in the core area appears to be a near-total loss, he said, because harvesting began recently and more than 90 percent of the crop remained in the field when Michael struck.

The peanut crop within the core area is probably a 40 percent loss, with correspondingly smaller losses in less-affected areas.

Damage to Florida planted-pine acreage is believed to be significant but will take longer to assess than agronomic crops, he said.