ATLANTA - All of the damage Hurricane Irma caused is a three-part loss. First, all of the nutrients and pesticides put in the growing of these trees, the crop that now sits on the ground that was supposed to be harvested 2 to 3 weeks from now and now planting and growing new trees. It will take them about a decade or two to get new trees to produce at the same level of the fallen trees.
"We are still in the early stages of estimating but it looks like we lost 20 percent of our pecan crop," said Bobby Lane of Southern Orchard Properties.
Bobby Lane's orchard is across the street from the Mason property. The Mason family lost about 4,000 trees this week. Thomas Mason says that's about 30% of his crap. That's just in Houston County. US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the orchard losses stretch statewide.
"We are thinking we may have a 20 to 30 percent loss across Georgia," said Secretary Perdue.
Lane says you add soggy land to 50 to 60 mph winds to shallow root systems and you have the perfect recipe for disaster.
"The taproot system doesn't go real deep in pecan trees," said Lane. "They more grow spread out instead of growing deep and obviously that added to along with the wet ground to the catastrophe that you see here in this orchard."
The Lanes and the Masons consider themselves lucky, and some aspects. As bad as it was, both farmers say it could always be worse.
"We just regroup, that's all we can do. We aren't quitters," said Mason.
When it comes to getting help, USDA has some websites for you:
Farm Service Agency: www.fsa.usda.gov
Natural Resources Conservation Service: www.nrcs.usda.gov
Rural Development: www.rd.usda.gov
Risk Management Agency: www.rma.usda.gov