US (FL): Orange groves take hit from Hurricane Isaac

Hurricane Isaac's wind and water will put a dent in this year's citrus crop.

Orange groves in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes took a beating during the storm, but the most serious damage was sustained in Plaquemines, where groves were flooded, causing damage to trees that could last beyond this year's harvest, said Kurt Guidry, an economist with the LSU AgCenter.

In Terrebonne and Lafourche, Isaac's howling winds caused trees to drop their fruit and also caused damage to some trees, said Barton Joffrion, an extension agent with the LSU AgCenter. Trees were blown over, and some were left in standing water for days because of the rain.

Guidry estimated 10-20 percent of the crop was lost in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes.

According to a report from the LSU AgCenter prepared by Guidry, about 532 of the state's more than 800 acres of orange groves, about 64 percent, were impacted by Isaac.

Damage tallied so far could reach $2.1 million, a 39 percent loss in sales.

The state's citrus industry brings in about $5.4 million annually, according to the report.

Louisiana navel oranges and satsumas, a baseball-shaped mandarin orange, are locally grown in many family orchards and sold through grocery stores, farmers markets and roadside stands.

State Rep. Truck Gisclair, D-Larose, owns Bayou Portuguese Citrus Farms in Larose.

He said this year was set to be a bumper crop before the storm.

“We had the best fruit set,” he said, with an enormous amount of bees around to provide pollination.


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