Florida ag chief tours freeze-ravaged growing areas

01/20/2010 08:31:26 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

“Some younger plants were wiped out,” he said.

Corn growers are “writing their crop off,” Bronson said.

“They’re done. Even if it was close to being salvageable, the sugar content turned to starch.”

Though a higher percentage Homestead vegetables should be salvageable, Bronson said the cold severely damaged tomatoes and corn, beans and to a lesser extent, the region’s squash.

He said the worst tomato damage he viewed was in the Immokalee area.

In a Jan. 18 estimate, Florida tomato industry officials pegged Immokalee-area damage at 70%.

Though Homestead produces small volumes, Immokalee remains Florida’s primary tomato-producing region January through March.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist extended a state of emergency until Jan. 26, easing weight, height, length and width restrictions for trucks hauling crops vulnerable to the freezes. The order allows grower-shippers to quickly harvest and transport their crops.


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