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Farmers Still Reeling One Year After Hurricane Michael

[Climax, GA/John Holcomb – Reporting]
When you mention Hurricane Michael in southwest Georgia, more times than not, you’ll get a
look unlike any other. An indicator of that person having flashbacks
of a day they wish they never had to live through. A day that when producers like Andy Bell woke
up that morning, their world had been quite literally blown away. [Andy Bell/Co-Owner, Bell Farms]
One of the first things I did was go to the cotton fields to see how they looked, and
they were, as we expected, they were horrible. I mean we lost all of our cotton and half
of it was sprayed and ready to pick and the other half was just about, could have been
sprayed had it not been the hurricane coming, but we had an excellent crop and it was all
lost due to the storm. [John]
Since that day, now more than a year ago, they’ve had to pick up the pieces and continue
on. They decided to replant cotton again this
year, which prompted me to ask “why?” Why would you plant cotton again after losing
it all last year? But as Bell told me as we were checking out
his field, that’s all they can do, because that’s what a farmer does. [Andy Bell]
We plant cotton every year, we buy crop insurance that protects us somewhat from a hurricane. It’s not a, it’s about a seventy percent protection
as you know, crop insurance. So, we just lose the other thirty percent,
but we have some protection against a disaster like a hurricane or drought or whatever. But I guess we’re just farmers and we think
it’s going to be better the next year. And like I said, we have a good crop again
this year if we can get it gathered without another hurricane. [John]
Just a few miles down road from Bell’s farm in the town of Bainbridge, another victim
of hurricane Michael: Pecan Ridge Plantation. [Eric Cohen/Co-Owner, Pecan Ridge Plantation]
Hurricane Michael devastated our farm. We lost about thirty thousand trees, basically
six hundred and fifty acres. We lost our entire crop. And what’s really bad is we basically don’t
have a crop this year due to all the stress from the hurricane last year that was put
on our trees and we’re still losing trees. [John]
They, like Bell and everyone else, have been busy cleaning up the past twelve months. [Eric]
We just got cleaned up. It took us basically six months just to get
our orchards where we could even mow. You know, back in order that we could even
walk, run equipment on them. And then we started, we’ve been working on
irrigation, we’ve been leveling because it basically, the hurricane destroyed our floor
too. [John]
As you can see from the small trees everywhere, they’ve been busy replanting, but with high
demand on tree seedlings, they can’t get them fast enough. [Eric]
There’s so much demand on tree seedlings. We’re about a year to two years out of just
getting a tree. So, we’re still in the long run. We’re going to be about nine years out really
to get back to where we were in production. [John]
Amazingly, even with so much chaos and destruction in the past year, they still have hope that
everything will be alright. [Eric]
We’re moving forward, you know, hopefully we can get the price to go back up once, hopefully
the tariff situation, it gets solved and I understand China’s really wanting to come
back into market on pecans. They love Georgia pecans. So, we think we’ve got a good opportunity
going forward, you know, but we’ve just got to, we got to stay in it, you know, be really
careful, dodge future storms coming to try to get us there. [John]
Reporting in Climax for the Farm Monitor, I’m John Holcomb.

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