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.