Hurricanes Impact Florida Crop Production

It could also mean big price hikes in the produce aisle, since Wilma trampled on citrus and vegetable crops.

Butch Reagan lives hundreds of miles from Wilma’s strike zone, but he’s worried his business will still take a hit. He depends on Florida produce for his farmer’s market. Wilma wiped out the winter vegetable crop.

Butch Reagan says, "If it gets like it did last year with tomato prices going as high as $50 a case, it’s going to have a strong impact on my business as well as the consumer, especially the consumer.”

State officials say there’s not a single segment of the agriculture industry that didn’t take a hit from Wilma, and when you’re talking about a $62 billion industry, that’s a huge economic impact.

For citrus, it’s a repeat of last year when the oranges and grapefruits were left to rot on the ground. The hurricane also flattened thousands of acres of sugar cane.

State Ag. Commissioner Charles Bronson says Wilma’s toll could completely wipe out some growers, and cripple the industry statewide.

Charles Bronson says, "My fear is it’s going to be as bad if not worse in total dollars than last year’s dollar figures, and that was in the billions of dollars."

As a result, your holiday tables may be covered with produce from Mexico and Brazil instead of fresh from Florida fare, and you’ll probably be paying a premium.

Ag. Commissioner Charles Bronson will meet with growers next week to talk about the extent of damage from Wilma and start working on recovery.

He also wants to get better plans in place for next year, since forecasters are predicting several years of above-average storm activity.