Ian’s damage to Florida agriculture as high as $1.8 billion

FILE - Fifth generation farmer Roy Petteway looks at the damage to his citrus grove from the effects of Hurricane Ian on Oct. 12, 2022, in Zolfo Springs, Fla. Agriculture losses in Florida from Hurricane Ian's high winds and drenching rains could reach $1.56 billion, with citrus, cattle, vegetable and melon operations among the hardest hit, the University of Florida reported Tuesday, Oct, 18, in a preliminary estimate. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)
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Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Hurricane Ian caused as much as $1.8 billion in damages to Florida agriculture last month, state agriculture officials said.

The Category 4 storm caused between $1.1 billion and $1.8 billion in losses to the state’s crops and agriculture infrastructure when it tore through the peninsula after landing in southwest Florida, according to a preliminary estimate released Monday by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The agency’s estimate was in the same range as a University of Florida preliminary estimate released last week that put Florida’s agriculture loss as high as $1.5 billion.

Crop damage ranged from $686 million to $1.2 billion. The biggest losses came from citrus which had damages between $416 million and $675 million, the Department of Agriculture report said. The hurricane hit almost at the start of the citrus growing season in Florida, which produces about 60% of all the citrus consumed in the U.S.

Not only did citrus growers lose fruit that was blown off trees, but they now face the prospect of damaged trees from flooding. The loss could amount to as much as 11% of citrus trees, the report said. Even before the hurricane, Florida’s orange production was predicted to be down by almost a third this season because of the deadly citrus greening disease.

When it comes to non-citrus fruits and vegetables, Florida lost an estimated $153.7 million to $230.5 million, or around 10% to 15% of crops, just as the planting season was getting into full gear. Many fields lost plastic and drip-tape irrigation and other infrastructure, the report said.q