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Hurricane Hanna leaves grapefruit afloat in South Texas orchards

Harvest-ready cotton also suffers extensive damage. Economist Samuel Zapata discusses the economic impact.

For the third year in a row, South Texas crops have been damaged by devastating floodwaters in June and July. On July 25, 2020, Hurricane Hanna left grapefruits afloat and harvest-ready cotton strung out and on the ground. 

The Lower Rio Grande Valley was hardest hit, but agricultural losses occurred throughout a 32-county region. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Economist Samuel Zapata visited with Farm Press about the estimated economic impact of the storm.

Zapata Pic.jpg(Samuel Zapata, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension economist. Photo courtesy of Samuel Zapata.)

"We contacted our network of county Extension agents in each of the 32 counties impacted by the hurricane and asked them to assess the initial damage," Zapata says. "We compiled their information to estimate the overall impact of Hurricane Hanna in South Texas."

Farm Press also visited with cotton producer Brian Jones, Edcouch, and Harlingen citrus producer and President of Texas Citrus Mutual Dale Murden about the trail of destruction Hanna left behind on their South Texas farms. 

When the hurricane hit, Murden says the grapefruit and oranges were still green. "The grapefruit was baseball size. We don't start picking until late September, early October, so we still had a few months to ripen up. But we were in a great state, quality-wise and size-wise when it hit.

“Depending on where you were in the eyewall is where the most damage occurred," he says, adding that those close to the eyewall had as much as 50% of their citrus crop on the ground. 

Murden estimates about a 30% loss for the Texas citrus industry, valued at about $66 to $67 million.

Watch to learn more.



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