Ian’s damage to Florida agriculture totals $1.8 billion

ORLANDO, Florida — Hurricane Ian caused up to $1.8 billion in damage 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 crops and agricultural infrastructure across the state as it crossed the peninsula after making landfall 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 preliminary estimate from the University of Florida released last week, which put Florida’s agricultural loss at $1.5 billion.

Crop damage ranged from $686 million to $1.2 billion. The largest losses came from citrus fruits, which suffered damages of between $416 million and $675 million, according to the Agriculture Department report. The hurricane struck near the start of the citrus growing season in Florida, which produces about 60% of all citrus consumed in the United States.

Not only have citrus growers lost fruit that was washed away by the trees, but they now face the prospect of flood-damaged trees. The loss could represent up to 11% of citrus trees, according to the report. Even before the hurricane, Florida orange production was predicted to be down nearly a third this season due to the deadly citrus green disease.

For non-citrus fruits and vegetables, Florida lost between $153.7 million and $230.5 million, or about 10 to 15 percent of harvests, as the planting season was in full swing. Many fields have lost plastic and drip irrigation and other infrastructure, according to the report.

ABC News

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