By Ashley Bates/staff writer
Areas in New Jersey, along with farms across the state, are still suffering damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.
Al Murray, director, marketing and development with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, said that it might take months to fully assess the damage statewide.
“We are in contact with the United States Department of Agriculture just about every day, we have a very good relationship with them, after the damage assessments have been made is when the farmers that have crop insurance might be able to recoup some losses,” Murray said. “A large part of New Jersey’s agriculture is nursery and sod. What happens there is the damage for those plants might not be apparent until a couple months in, the plant might die slowly, might rot, so we won’t even know about that damage for a couple months.”
Hurricane Irene blew through the Northeast Labor Day weekend dumping several inches of rain to the area, in some cases feet of water.
“Typical August rainfall in New Jersey is about four inches and by the end of the month some parts of the state were registering 27 or 28-inches of rain. What the hurricanes brought were not necessarily a little bit of wind damage, not an awful lot but more in the form of too much moisture.”
Murray said standing water in the fields resulted in the most farm damage.
“With water standing in the field what is does is it drowns the plant, you’ll see beautiful lush field of green and right in the center where the water stood will be a big brown spot, which could be soy bean crop, tomato crop and of course the moisture also leads to fungus and bacteria issues as well,” he said. “I wouldn’t say that some farms didn’t have a total wipeout but I would say that guys that grew corn, for instance, the wind sheered the corn down, knocked it on the corn. They could still harvest the corn but instead of using a machine to harvest the corn they had to bring in labor to hand pick and that adds to the farmer’s cost of production. A lot of farmers were planting for the fall and they got washed out and now they have to go back to the field and re-plow and plant again.”