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Storm Alberto damages vegetable crops in Florida, Georgia

Tropical Storm Alberto, the first of the season, made landfall along the coast of the Florida panhandle Monday night, before moving into southern Alabama and affecting far southwest Georgia. The system brought significant rainfall and strong winds and resulted in some damaged vegetable crops in the far west of Florida.

The most significant impact was rainfall, with wind damage being secondary for most produce items. The softer vegetable crops growing in Florida right now sustained the most impact in the panhandle area. 

"There has been a lot of rain, estimated at up to eight to ten inches," said Bill Gable, owner of Gable Enterprises in Grand Ridge, Florida. "We've sustained major damage to our vegetable crops, from both the excessive rain and the wind. The crops affected include crookneck squash, summer squash, bell peppers, and beans. We also grow corn but it's hard to tell if that has suffered any harm. It will take a few days before we are able to assess those crops. We suspect that some tomato growers in the region may have also suffered damage."

Watermelon production impacted
Watermelons are a significant crop in this area right now, with Florida in production and Georgia about to begin. While the melons themselves have not suffered too much physical damage, production has been impacted because growers are not able to access their fields to harvest. In addition, growers are not being too hasty with their assessments, mindful of potential water related issues down the track. 

"So far, we have had no impact on our watermelon crops, however we can't get into the fields right now because they are far too wet," said Jamy Rosenstein of Atlantic Fresh Trading in Cairo, Georgia. "If there is any more rain, then we will start being concerned about disease pressure, including mildew."

Rosenstein added that the storm has come after Florida has already experienced plenty of rain in recent weeks. At this stage though, he said growers are remaining positive and expressed that the rain may have been helpful for fruit quality. "It's been raining for two weeks straight, with a lot of thunderstorms and associated wind," he explained. "We are about to begin the Georgia watermelon season and so far, everything looks fine. The rain may have even been a good outcome, given that warm and wet weather is beneficial for the soil as well as the fruit."

Associated rainfall heading towards the Great Lakes later today
Storm Alberto has weakened and the remnants are now moving north into Tennessee on a path towards the Great Lakes. Although the threat of damaging wind has passed, Michigan and southern Ontario are expected to see severe weather, including rain and thunderstorms, later today and into this evening. Meanwhile, in Florida, the rain and wind are expected to ease through Thursday, with a dry and sunny weekend on the horizon.

For more information:
Bill Gable
Gable Enterprises
Tel: +1 (850) 592-6183

Jamy Rosenstein
Atlantic Fresh Trading
Tel: +1 (229) 376-6307