From Mobile County in the south to Cherokee County in the northeast, Alabama’s rural landscape is dotted with destroyed crops and damaged structures after Tropical Storm Zeta blew through Oct. 28 and 29.
Damage assessments are ongoing, but cotton appears to be the most impacted. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Crop Progress and Condition Report, more than 40% of the cotton crop was still in the field.
“We have farmers who are reporting a complete loss on any cotton they had not yet harvested,” said Carla Hornady, Alabama Farmers Federation Cotton; Soybean; and Wheat & Feed Grain divisions director. “For those who do still have a salvageable crop, the quality and yield will be much lower than anticipated before Zeta. It’s devastating, especially for our farmers in Alabama’s Black Belt and coastal counties.”
Monroe County Farmers Federation President Ronnie Joe Jordan planned to start picking his 494 acres of cotton the first week of November.
“If you drove past the field the day before, it was just completely white with cotton. When we drove by Thursday morning, all you could see were brown stalks,” Jordan said. “All the cotton has been knocked off the ground. It’s pretty rough.”
Farmers also have reported damage to their soybean crops as high winds whipped the stalks around, making harvest more difficult. Additionally, power outages create concerns for farmers who often rely on electric-powered wells to provide water to their homes and livestock.
Agricultural damage was widespread and impacted numerous commodities. Additional reports include:
- Damaged and destroyed barns, grain bins, fences, poultry houses and greenhouses
- Loss of stored hay bales
- Damage to peach and citrus trees in orchards, as well as blueberry bushes
- Downed trees blocking farm-to-market roads
- Loss of pecan crop, which was already drastically lower due to Hurricane Sally
- Destroyed irrigation equipment, including center pivots
The 27th named storm of the 2020 hurricane season, Hurricane Zeta made landfall Wednesday afternoon in Louisiana as a Category 2 storm with maximum winds of 110 miles per hour. It was downgraded to a tropical storm as it moved into Alabama.