South Georgia pecan farmers say more than half of their crop was wiped out by Idalia
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Agriculture is the number one industry in Georgia, but farmers in south Georgia say Hurricane Idalia impacted some of the cotton, corn, and peanut crops. Pecan farmers, they say, took the biggest hit.
Lenny Wells took photos of his in-law’s farm in Berrien County, Georgia. Their pecan trees were uprooted by the high winds. He said they were getting ready to produce their first crop.
“The first day or two that you know the that you’re looking at that you kind of are walking around in a daze and not sure what to do. It takes six, seven, or eight years to get a tree just back into production. And even then, it may not be at the level of production that was in when you lost it depending on the age of that tree,” Wells said.
Hurricane Idalia had the greatest impact on young trees. Many were planted after Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Michael almost wiped out the entire crop in 2017 and 2018.
Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper toured the damage. He said he saw orchards decimated during a recent helicopter tour.
“We’re probably 50-60% of a loss to this year’s pecan crop,” Harper explained.
Fewer pecans to harvest means farmers may have to charge more in stores. Pam Knox with UGA’s Extension Office is asking for patience.
“If it weren’t for getting federal assistance like low-interest loans to cover some of those losses, I think it would be very discouraging and some farmers would just quit,” Knox said.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s office said they’re still waiting to hear if they’ll qualify for federal funds to help farmers impacted by Hurricane Idalia.
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