Mike Sparks, executive vice president and chief executive officer of Lakeland-based Florida Citrus Mutual sent this letter to the association's members in response to Tropical Storm Fay's damage in the state:
"Dear Florida Citrus Mutual Board of Directors, Members and Friends:
It’s been a busy week for you all I’m sure. As a whole, the industry made it through Tropical Storm Fay in decent shape, however, standing water remains a major issue for a large portion of Florida’s citrus producing counties. We had reports of 6, 12, 20 and even 30 inches of rain.
As you already know, the counties of the Indian River region were hit the hardest by Fay. Isolated pockets in Southwest Florida and the growing area near the St. John’s River were also hit with heavy rains. Obviously, much of the damage is dependent on the grove location. Mutual staff has been out in the field monitoring the situation as it develops in these regions.
It may be weeks before the full extent of the damage can be determined. Currently, we estimate fruit drop at 5 percent but that number could grow if long-term root damage takes hold. Mutual continues to work with the Water Management Districts to ensure everything possible is being done to rectify the situation, however, water can only be removed so quickly. Some of the flood waters have nowhere to go. We’ve had reports of some growers trying to pump into water bodies that are already above flood stage.
Another concern is the strong winds and rainfall from Fay could spread canker throughout the state. In all likelihood, Fay did not help our industry’s canker problem, particularly on the River. Once the situation can be quantified we will make sure we pass along the information. We share your concern.
In the meantime, Mutual has been working with the Florida Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency to compile damage assessment information on tree damage and fruit loss. We’ve also been in contact with key members of the Florida Congressional Delegation to keep them updated on the Fay aftermath.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns.
Sparks can be reached at (863) 682-1111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.