Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mid Atlantic Crop Damage From Storms

Crop damage from several recent weather systems has been significant in the Mid Atlantic region. Reports of crop damage includes corn, soybeans, vegetables, fruit trees, and even farm-raised fish.

According to the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB), high winds and heavy rain from Hurricane Irene caused sporadic damage to farms and orchards in several areas of Pennsylvania. The most common problem cited by farmers is that field corn was leaning or flattened by strong winds, while apples and other fruits fell to the ground during the storm.

“The largest and most mature fruit fell off the trees.We estimate that about 20% of our fruit is on the ground, which is a significant loss,” said Brad Hollabaugh of Hollabaugh Brothers Fruit Farm and Market in Biglerville, Adams County.

“There is nothing more disheartening than looking at apples on the ground, after you’ve put your heart and soul into growing and nurturing the fruit throughout the season,” added Hollabaugh.

Jim Schupp, the director of Penn State’s Fruit Research and Extension Center, confirmed that winds from Hurricane Irene uprooted fruit trees. “Damages vary widely from farm-to-farm and even from one section of a farm to the other.  Some farms were hardly touched, while others have fruit losses of 50%,” said Jim Schupp.

Corn crops throughout the Mid Atlantic were tangled or flattened by Hurricane Irene and later by heavy rainfall associated with Tropical Storm Lee. In some areas, corn which was already stressed from lack of rain was severely flattened by rain and wind.

Flood damage to crops was most extensive in Pennsylvania as the Susquehanna River flooded portions of Harrisburg, Hershey, and surrounding communities.

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