IRMA: Blueberry farms badly damaged by hurricane

By Tim Wronka, Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, October 03, 2017, 5:06 PM EDT

As recovery from Hurricane Irma continues, many Bay area farmers are struggling to save their crops.

  • Frogmore Fresh in Dade City copes with Irma damage
  • Roots pulled out of ground, causing plants to lean
  • UF volunterers have helped with fixing plants

Some farms saw thousands of plants damaged due to heavy rain and wind. Frogmore Fresh in Dade City saw many of its blueberry plants badly damaged.

General Manager Leonard Park will never forget what he saw the day after Imra blasted his blueberry farm.

"Most of the field laying over. A lot of plans blown down. Some blown out of the ground, literally," Park said. He has had to work non-stop ever since to save them.

"After a few minutes of sadness about what happened, it was down to planning. We gotta deal with this, and we gotta deal with it fast," he said.

Irma's wind pulled many roots out of the ground, destabilizing the plants and causing them to lean. Park has had to buy nearly 1,000 bamboo canes to help prop the plants up.

Even for the plants that were fixed, they'll need more help after Irma.

"You get a thunderstorm, a wind gust through here could knock it back over," Park said.

If there is some good in the mess - it's the dozens of volunteers from the University of Florida that came out to help fix the plants last Saturday.

"We've had real troopers here and the people in our community that came out and help us, what a godsend. We really appreciate it," Park said.

Despite fixing up much of the farm, the damage may be lead to the farm losing about 20 percent of its harvest this spring.