North Carolina sweet potato growers are scrambling to harvest as much of their crop as possible before Hurricane Florence makes landfall.
The National Weather Service reported Sept. 12 that there is a high to moderate risk of flash flooding from Hurricane Florence across eastern North Carolina and extreme eastern South Carolina on Friday, Sept. 14. The National Weather Service is forecasting more than 20 inches of rain in some areas over the next week.
The North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission issued a statement the afternoon of Sept. 12 that said:
“North Carolina Sweet Potato farmers across the state are continuing to work tirelessly to harvest their crops before Hurricane Florence makes her projected landfall along the North Carolina coast later this week. Farmers have been working day and night to harvest as much of their crops as they can, along with preparing their facilities and personal property in the potential path of the storm. It is important to get as many potatoes out of the ground as possible as warm air and soil temperatures can speed up rot.”
“Covington, one of the most popular varieties of North Carolina sweet potatoes, have proven to be fairly weather tolerant. We are also optimistic that the cooler weather forecasted for next week will help keep storage facilities as cool as possible, which would help with storage in the case of post-storm power outages.”
“Following the storm, the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission will work closely with all of our farmers to assess damages.”
USDA offers help
The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a news release Sept. 12 that said the agency was ready to lend assistance when needed.
“USDA staff in the regional, state and county offices stand ready and eager to help,” the agency said.
The release said USDA recently launched a disaster assistance discovery tool through its new website Farmers.gov that walks producers through five questions to help them determine which USDA disaster assistance programs may help them recover after the expected storm.
The Disaster Resource Center website, located at www.usda.gov/topics/disaster, provides a searchable database of disaster-related resources, according to the release.