Virginia updates crop loss estimates

According to reports provided to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), freezing temperatures during the first week of April have resulted in crop damage and losses that may total millions of dollars for farmers across the state.

Exact numbers will not be available until growers can make complete assessments of the damage. In many cases, it is too soon to determine the ultimate effects but at least 25 Virginia localities have reported losses so far.

Early appraisals indicate significant damage to any fruit crops that were in bloom. Initial reports suggest that apples and peaches were hit hardest, but cherries and strawberries were also affected. Before the freeze, warm weather in parts of the state had encouraged early blooms, which were literally nipped in the bud by the cold snap.

Depending on the locality, estimated losses to the apple crop varied from 5 percent to 90 percent with peach losses pegged at 80 percent to 100 percent and cherries at 50 percent.

Early estimates of strawberry losses came in at 50 percent to 75 percent while the grape crop may have diminished by as much as 25 percent to 75 percent.

Loss estimates also include the hay crop, down 10 percent to 25 percent, squash down 50 percent to 75 percent, and the cabbage crop off by approximately 25 percent.

In areas where corn had been planted, most had not emerged but any above ground showed significant damage.

VDACS reminds growers with losses to work with Extension personnel to help them collect data needed by local governments seeking the Governor’s assistance in obtaining federal disaster designation.

VDACS, along with the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry and the Governor, will expedite these requests to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). A disaster designation for a locality makes farmers with qualifying losses eligible to apply for low interest federal emergency loans through USDA. Localities have only 90 days from the conclusion of the disastrous event to make these requests.

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