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Estimated Cost Per Acre of Bare-Ground Vegetable Production Damaged by Hurricane Michael

By: Esendugue Greg Fonsah1, Brian Hayes2, Will Gay3, Ty Torrance5, Justin Shealey5

1Department of Agriculture and Applied Economics, University of Georgia, Tifton, GA, 2-5Michel Co., Colquitt Co., Grady Co., and Echols County Extension Coordinators, University of Georgia.

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In Georgia, vegetables are grown using either the plasticulture system and/or on bare-ground. Hurricane Michael affected both cultural practices.  This study focuses on the cost of bare-ground production system damage by the Hurricane.  Our calculations are based on the recommendation of the Extension Vegetable Team, Vegetable Growers and County Agents in South Georgia (Table 1).

Although plasticulture has several advantages, which include higher yields, the system is much more expensive. As a result, many Georgia Growers still use bare-ground production system, which accounts for approximately 64%, equivalent to 38,000 acres of the vegetable production damaged by Hurricane Michael.  Sweet corn was the largest acreage crop at approximately 15,000 acres. Producers using bare-ground production system experienced crops (particularly corn, snap beans, fresh pick, etc.) being laid over, excessive wash-out from rain of rows and field lay-out (roadways, access roads, etc.), and loss of residual fertilizer and soil fumigant. Additionally, land preparation was needed to recover fields for future planting.

 

Table 1: Analysis of the Estimated Costs of Bare-Ground Production Loss Due to Hurricane Michael in South Georgia, 2018.

Description $-Total/Ac
Land structure recovery from Hurricane Michael damage1 
Tractor/driver/equipment – $17.76/A x 2 passes $     35.52
Land prep including mowing and harrowing under damaged plants
Tractor driver @ $15.53/hr. – ½ hr./A x 3 passes2 $ 23.30
Tractor/fuel @ $10/A   x 3 passes $   30.00
Lime – ½ T/A – $36.50/A for soil fertility adjustments $   18.25
Fertilizer – 450 lb./A – $600/ton ($.30/lb.) 3 $ 135.00
Fumigant – 8 gal./A – $ 20/gal. 4 $   160.00
Cover crop to prevent erosion damage
Seed for cover crop – $20/A $ 20.00
Fertilizer for cover crop – $40/A $ 40.00
Planting – tractor/driver/fuel – $17.76/A $ 17.76
Total Bare-ground Production Loss5 $ 479.83

1Land preparation – leveling/rows/roads, etc. 2#hrs/acre depends on the size and/or HP of the tractor. 31.5 x normal rate due to leaching loss. 41.25 x normal rate due to leaching loss & pest pressure. 5These figures are guidelines as growers adopt different agricultural practices and obtain different prices for inputs.

To recover from the damage caused by Hurricane Michael, the following agricultural practices were needed: (a). Land preparation due to unharvested crop, (b) plant material to prevent spread of insect and disease field wash-out, and; (c). replacement of fertilizer/fumigant lost through leaching.  In many cases, a cover crop was required to prevent soil erosion by water or wind.  Table 1 below is an estimated breakdown economic analysis itemizing the operational recovery cost per acre for bare-ground field production damaged by Hurricane Michael.

The total cost of bare-ground production loss due to the October 10, 2018 Hurricane Michael damage in South Georgia is estimated at $479.83/acre (Table 1).

If you have further questions or need any clarification, by all means, do not hesitate to contact us via email: gfonsah@uga.edu; hayesbw@uga.edu; torrance@uga.edu; wgay5@uga.edu; bstarr@uga.edu; or justin1@uga.edu

Estimated Cost Per Acre of Removing and Replacing Plastic Mulch Damaged by Hurricane Michael in Georgia

By:  Esendugue Greg Fonsah1 and Justin Shealey2

1Department of Agriculture and Applied Economics, University of Georgia, Tifton, GA, 2Echols County Extension Coordinator, University of Georgia, Statenville, GA.

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After the damage caused by Hurricane Michael on October 10, 2018 for which the Georgia Vegetable industry suffered a total loss of $480 million, we decided to calculate the estimated cost/Acre of removing and replacing destroyed plastic mulch, by growers. Our calculations are based on the recommendation of the Extension Vegetable Team, information gathered from Vegetable Growers and County Agents during our multiple visits of vegetable farms in South Georgia to collect data needed to generate 2020 vegetable budgets for the state of Georgia (Table 1).

Georgia vegetables are grown either in a system called ‘plasti-culture’ or on ‘bare-ground’. There are many advantages of plasti-culture production including higher yields, but it is much more expensive than ‘bare-ground’ production.  For growers using plasti-culture, a planting bed approximately 12 inches high and 3-4 feet wide covered with plastic is required.  Beneath the plastic, drip lines are run for irrigation, fertilization and pesticide applications.  In addition, during the process of laying the plastic mulch, the bed is fumigated for soil borne diseases and weed seeds and/or weed control.

It is important to note that Growers normally use the plastic bed for 3-4 crops before having to reshape and re-fumigate the beds, re-place the plastic and drip lines. In many cases and during our visit and assessment, Hurricane Michael damaged or destroyed the beds and plastic, requiring re-

laying of plastic, drip lines and fumigation. Table 1 below is a simplified breakdown economic analysis itemizing the operational recovery cost per acre for possible replacement of field production, plasti-culture damaged by Hurricane Michael.

Table 1: Analysis of the $-Value of Replacing Plastic Mulch Loss Due to Hurricane Michael    

               to the South Georgia Vegetable Industry, 2018

Description $-Total/Ac
Removal of plant material, plastic mulch, stakes and disposal at land fill.
Removal of plastic – 4 workers @ $14.53/hr. – 2 hr./A $ 116.24
Removal of drip tape – 2 workers @ $14.53/hr. -1 hr./A $     29.00
Removal of stakes – 6 workers @ $14.53/hr. – 1 hr./A $     87.18
Removal of string – 4 workers @ $14.53/hr. – 1 hr./A1 $     58.12
Mowing old plants – 1 worker @ 14.53/hr. – 1 hr./A $     14.53
Plus fuel $       9.60
Disposal at landfill – $     50.00
                                 Total of Planting Material Removal $ 364.67
Laying new plastic, land prep, materials, fertilization, fumigation, labor.
Land prep – tractor/driver/fuel – 3 tractors – $10/A $     30.00
Fertilizer – 300 lb./A – $600/ton ($.30/lb.) $     90.00
Fumigant – 135 lb./A – $4.40/lb. $   594.00
Plastic – 8,712 ft./A – $0.055/ft.2 $   479.16
Tape – 8,712 ft./A – $ 0.014/ft. $   125.84
Tractor & Equipment to Lay plastic $   150.00
Labor – Fumigation/Fertilization/plastic laying: 10 workers @ $14.53/hr. – 1 hr./A $   145.30
Irrigation Hookup – 2 workers @ $14.53/hr. – 2 hr./A $     58.12
Stakes – 2200/A – $0.25/stake $   550.00
Labor to install stakes – 12 workers @ $14.53 – 1 hr./A $   174.36
Total Laying New Plastic, land-prep, material, fertilization, fumigation, labor $ 2,396.78
                                                   Grand Total Costs3 $2,761.45

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1Cost of strings are not included because that is a cost for the new crop and in normal operations, the string is lost.

2Plastic costs will be higher for tomato growers because they would need silver mulch to control White fly instead of using black mulch.

3The Grand Total Cost does not include interest rate of 6.5% used in the enterprise budgets.

 

The total $-value for replacing plastic mulch loss due to Hurricane Michael to the South Georgia Vegetable Industry, 2018 is estimated at $2,761.45 (Table 1).

 

If you have further questions or need any clarification, by all means, do not hesitate to contact us via phone 229-386-3512 or 229-559-5562 office or email: gfonsah@uga.edu or justin1@uga.edu

Hurricane Michael Hit Georgia Pecans Industry

By Esendugue Greg Fonsah, Doug Collins, Lenny Wells and Will Hudson

Hurricane Michael arrived the heart of Georgia pecans producing areas in the early morning of Wednesday October 10, 2018 and left a devastating blow to the entire industry.  Speaking with County Agents and Specialists, Mitchell, Lee, and Dougherty Counties that contribute to a third of total Georgia pecans suffered close or more than 50%.  The hurricane came at the most vulnerable time imagine.  Pecans crops that were close to harvest were destroyed.  Several pecan trees and nuts were knocked down.   Other producing areas such as Peach, Crisp, Leesburg and Bainbridge were affected with varying losses ranging from 20- 40% according to initial reports.  There were also structural damage.  Although initial loss is valued at about $200 million, this might change quickly after a comprehensive assessment is carried out.

Courtesy of Dr. Lenny Wells.

Understanding Your Generic Base Conversion Options With the Seed Cotton Program

by Don Shurley and Adam N. Rabinowitz

We have developed a third publication in a series of fact sheets on the new seed cotton program. Included in this document is a little history of what happened with the 2014 farm bill that led to the development of the seed cotton program.  We provide an example of the decision process and identify things to think about when making the decision.

The PDF can be downloaded here.