Hurricanes take a toll on Southern crops -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Hurricanes take a toll on Southern crops

September 20, 2004

ALBANY, Ga. (AP)-- Back-to-back hurricanes, Frances and Ivan, have destroyed millions of dollars worth of peanuts, pecans and cotton in Georgia, Alabama, eastern Mississippi and the Florida Panhandle.

While officials continue to assess damages, farmers are cautiously eyeing two more storms-- tropical storms Jeanne, heading north-northwest over Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and Karl, heading west-northwest out of the Atlantic.

Farmers want their fields to dry so they can rush in to harvest before another storm arrives. Wind blasts from Frances and Ivan blew immature pecans off trees, leaving them to rot on the ground. Cotton and peanuts were vulnerable because they were approaching maturity.

Excessive moisture can cause peanuts to fall off the plants in the ground, rendering them useless. Ninety of Georgia's 159 counties already are being considered in a request for a federal agricultural disaster declaration from Frances, which caused an estimated $100 million in crop losses.

Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Tommy Irvin said additional counties may be added because of Ivan, which spawned tornadoes in the heavily agricultural western half of the state. Cotton is a $619 million crop in Georgia alone, and peanuts a $350 million crop.

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