( Mary Junell / U.S. Army / CC BY-ND 2.0 /MGN )

Hurricane Florence caused more than $1.1 billion in damage to crops and livestock in North Carolina, according to a new state estimate. Of that, about $27 million is damage to vegetables and horticultural crop losses.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said losses to North Carolina agriculture are expected to be more than $1.1 billion, based on assessments following Hurricane Florence. That number easily tops the $400 million seen following Hurricane Matthew in 2016, according to a news release.

“We knew the losses would be significant because it was harvest time for so many of our major crops and the storm hit our top six agricultural counties especially hard,” Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said in the release. “These early estimates show just what a devastating and staggering blow this hurricane leveled at our agriculture industry.”

According to the state’s agricultural department: 

  • Row crop losses are estimated at $986.6 million
  • Forestry losses are estimated at $69.6 million
  • Green industry losses are estimated at $30 million
  • Vegetable and horticulture crop losses are estimated at $26.8 million
  • Livestock, poultry and aquaculture losses are estimated at $23.1 million
  • Livestock losses are 4.1 million poultry and an estimate of 5,500 hogs.

The state did not make damage estimates by individual commodities.

The estimates were based on the percentage of crops still in the field in the 35 counties hurt the most by Florence.
Kelly McIver, executive director of the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission, Benson, said that there are no industry estimates yet for sweet potato crop damage from Florence.

Grower-shippers say it could be months before the full extent of losses may be determined, she said. Sweet potato harvest in the state continued Sept. 27, with more than half of the crop remaining in the field.