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Hurricane puts crop at risk in North Carolina

11 Sep 2018. Hurricane Florence threatens to cause major damage to tobacco plants in the field and harvested and stored tobacco leaf in the US’s top tobacco producing state, Bloomberg reported.

The tobacco fields in the state are at risk of flooding and the tobacco plants are at risk of rotting, Bloomberg reported. Matthew Van, a tobacco extension specialist at North Carolina State University, said crop damage could be as high as USD 300 million, if 100 per cent of the crops in the field are lost, Bloomberg reported. “That would be a very sizable blow to the tobacco-grower base as a whole,” Van was quoted as saying.

Van said the hurricane’s category 4 winds, which are moving towards North Carolina at 130 miles per hour, are powerful enough to worry tobacco farmers that the storm will hamper the region’s yield and blow away tobacco leaves, according to the report.

The US Department of Agriculture figures show that the state is projected to harvest 158,800 acres of tobacco leaf in 2018. Andrea Ashby, a spokesperson for the state’s department of agriculture, said that although two thirds of the crop has already been harvested, some of the most valuable crop is still in the ground.

In addition to that, harvested and stored tobacco leaf is still at risk of spoiling, if a power outage happens where the leaf is stored and cured, according to the report.

Charlotte Vick of Vick Family Farms, which produces tobacco and other crops in Wilson, North Carolina said in an email to Bloomberg: “If Florence stays on the current path and stalls over North Carolina with massive rainfall, it will definitely be devastating.

“We are taking measures today to harvest as much as possible before the storm and prepare with generators for our curing facilities and our housing for our employees.”