CANTONMENT, Fla. — Hurricane Sally was a Category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds at landfall in Gulf Shores, Alabama (11 miles west of FL), but in rural farming regions of the Florida Panhandle it was not just the high winds, but the tremendous rainfall from this slow moving storm that caused devastation. NWS estimated that the areas in white received more than 20 inches, in purple 15-20″, pink 10-15″, and dark red 8-10″ over the past week leading up to and after landfall of Hurricane Sally
Hurricane Sally hit just as Panhandle farmers were finishing corn harvest, beginning peanut harvest, and a few weeks away from cotton harvest. What had looked to be a promising harvest season, is now heartbreaking damage and losses. The following photos, taken on Thursday, September 17, 2020, show some of the crop damage in Escambia County from the wind and flooding.
It will take weeks for saturated fields to drain and dry out enough to hold up heavy harvest equipment. Farmers in Escambia County may be able to salvage peanuts from the higher ends of fields. The cotton’s future is less certain, as wind and flooded fields not only cause cotton plants to lodge and mature cotton to fall to the ground, but diseases such as boll rot and hardlock will also take a toll on the bolls still remaining on the plants. While there may still be some fields to harvest in Escambia County, it certainly won’t be the bountiful harvest most farmers here were expecting. There will also be a major repairs required to restore fences, barns, and conservation structures damaged by Hurricane Sally.
To view photos of the aftermath of Hurricane Sally please click here!
–Libbie Johnson, UF/IFAS Escambia County Extension