This hurricane season has proven to be very active and damaging, and it’s not over. Challenges presented by hurricanes come in many different forms, including protecting greenhouses, knowing and using safety rules for clean-up, salvaging crops, health maintenance for livestock and poultry, reconditioning equipment and recovery of orchards and groves.
The following tips may be helpful to your customers as many people begin the restoration process and navigate through the remainder of the 2017 hurricane season.
Clean Farm Equipment
After you assess the damage and file insurance claims, it’s best to start cleaning farm equipment and vehicles right away. Silt can cause rust, and it will be more difficult to clean the longer you wait. Do not try to use the equipment until a dealer or expert has thoroughly cleaned and reconditioned the engine.
Hurricanes bring heavy rains and often create flooding, which can wash away fertilizer and other plant treatments. After a severe storm, farmers may need to re-fertilize their crop.
Watch out for Weeds
Farmers should exercise extra vigilance when dealing with weeds if their fields have experienced flooding. Flooding can introduce new weeds into a field, which can spring up and cause problems in the current season as well as in future growing years.
Reset Trees & Drain Orchards
When dealing with uprooted trees in orchards, sometimes they can be reset. As long as the root ball is intact, farmers can gently reset them with stakes for stability and protection. It’s best to do this while the soil is still wet. Floodwaters can also suffocate tree roots, so it’s important to drain orchards as quickly as possible. Dig new drainage or use pumps to remove any standing water.
One of the first priorities after a hurricane is to repair broken fencing to keep livestock contained. Focus on the perimeter first and share with neighbors, when possible. After the storm, make sure that cattle have a dry pasture to graze in and do not feed them grain that is moldy or unsafe. Monitor cattle closely for signs of distress and make sure they have access to plenty of clean water.
Greenhouses must take special precautions to sterilize soil, structures and tools before planting again. There are several methods which can be used, including sterilizing soil with steam or chemicals and disinfecting all equipment and greenhouse surfaces.
Cleaning up after a hurricane often involves removing downed trees. Before you approach any fallen tree, carefully examine it from multiple angles to make sure it is not touching a power line. Never touch a tree that is in contact with a power line – even if you are without power, treat every line like it’s live.
Hurricanes can leave enormous amounts of destruction in their paths. But, taking precautions beforehand and following these tips for recovery may help to alleviate the damages many farmers face. Click here for more information about hurricane recovery, or visit your local county extension office.