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St. Johns farmers may lose millions from storm damaged crops

1:24 PM, May 8, 2013   |    comments
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HASTINGS, Fla. -- This weekend's wild weather wreaked havoc on the First Coast. It spawned an EF-0 tornado, floods and hail.

That rain and hail is causing major losses for area farmers and may have an impact on how much you pay for produce at the grocery store.

"We'll be lucky to get half a crop in," said James Barnes, whose family owns and runs a large farm in Hastings. "The hail, the tornado; you can't predict Mother Nature,"

They grow cucumbers and watermelon. Both crops, Barnes said, were damaged by ten inches of rain. Their cabbage and 190 acres of cantaloupe were damaged by hail.

"It ripped these cantaloupes to shreds," Barnes said. "They're going to have to start producing leaves again instead of cantaloupe."

Barnes' farm is already facing a staggering loss.

"You're talking in the million-dollar range," he said.

Meanwhile, in Clay County, Emergency Management Deputy Director John Ward said that no farmland in Clay County was affected by the storm. Ward said solely residential property was affected.

St. Johns County Administrator Jerry Cameron said damage to farms in the south-central part of the county was extensive.

Cameron said between 30 and 40 farms were affected. He said a chicken farm even lost some of its livestock. The county is currently running estimates on how much it will cost to clean everything up.

Agricultural Extension Office Director Dan Cantliffe told First Coast News 60 to 70 percent of potato crops in St. Johns are damaged and some 500 acres of corn is also damaged. Cantliffe said that with roughly 18,000 acres of food affected, damage from the storm could be in the millions of dollars.

"A lot of things were lost," Barnes said. "A lot of money ... revenue in this area."

For now, families and farmers like the Barnes' have to contemplate what is next.

"You just pray," He explained. "Hope for the best and pick what we can."

First For You, First Coast News asked Cameron what the most affected crops were. He said they are potatoes, corn and melons.

First Coast News also asked Cantliffe if prices in the produce section of your neighborhood grocery store could go up. He told FCN there may be an increase in prices, but only slightly.

First Coast News

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