The first effects of Hurricane Florence are nearly hitting the North Carolina coast. While coastal stakeholders are concerned about storm surge, farmers are also looking at losses.
Farmers have learned lessons from past storms – most recently the devastating flooding of 2016’s Hurricane Matthew, but this storm will rip through the state during what is normally harvest season.
Steve Troxler, North Carolina’s Agriculture Commissioner, says preparation is key to minimizing losses.
"We may have 60% of the tobacco harvested in North Carolina. Corn harvest ranges 75% in the east to just beginning in the west. Unfortunately, sweet potatoes and peanuts are just getting underway with harvests, and I’ll remind you that we’re number one in the nation in sweet potatoes. Soybeans have just begun harvesting in the very far eastern part of North Carolina but have not begun anywhere else in the state."
And all the cotton, says Troxler, is still in the field.
Farmers have drawn down the levels of hog lagoons to cope with the heavy rainfall, but Troxler admits they don’t know what effect river flooding could have.