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Possible paths as of 8 p.m. Thursday

Hurricane Dorian’s impact to Florida’s agricultural regions appears to be minimal.

The most notable effects were minor grapefruit losses in the Indian River area, a consequence of heavy winds that ripped developing fruit from the branches, according to the University of Florida/Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences.

“I’ve received ‘no impact’ reports from seven of Florida’s Atlantic coast counties, which is great news,” UF/IFAS Economic Impact Analysis Program Director Christa Court said. “We’ll have UF/IFAS Extension personnel soliciting reports for several more days, and any producers whose operations were impacted by the hurricane can contact their UF/IFAS Extension county office for help.”

The coast is clear

Of the 12 counties along Florida’s Atlantic coast, only Palm Beach County has reported losses, to a hydroponic greens operation, Court said.

Florida’s east coast grapefruit industry had been considered particularly vulnerable, Court said.

Based primarily in St. Lucie and Indian River counties but also present in Martin, Brevard and Volusia, this sector of Florida citrus production is still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Irma in 2017 and has struggled with citrus greening disease for nearly 15 years.

Grateful growers

Not surprisingly, the area’s growers were relieved to see Dorian bypass them, said Michael Rogers, director of the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred.

“The eye of the hurricane was far enough offshore that the citrus groves in our East Coast counties didn’t see much effect except for stiff winds,” Rogers said. “There are about 70,000 acres of citrus in production in the Indian River area, and overall they came through just fine. Our UF/IFAS Extension specialists are ready to assist growers who did suffer fruit drop or other impacts.”

Farther north, Duval County officials feared that storm surge along the St. Johns River and its tributaries would have serious impacts, but they proved to be minor, Court said.

Many agricultural enterprises along the state’s First Coast — such as cabbage and potato farms — have not yet planted their winter crop.

“We’re assuming that these growers will not see any lingering effects of the storm as they move forward with planting,” Court said. “But if they do, we definitely would like to know about it.”

Court added that UF/IFAS Extension is interested in hearing from producers who had crop losses stemming from hurricane-preparation efforts.

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