News and Stories

UPDATE: Hurricane Irma and the East Coast Fall Harvesting Transition

September 08, 2017

Hurricane Irma is expected to make landfall in Southern Florida, as at least a Category Four hurricane on Sunday morning. Current forecasts are predicting Irma to reach Georgia and the Carolinas by early next week. Multiple growing regions are located directly in the storm’s path. Warehouses and shipping offices in Southern Florida will be closed through late next week; labor housing has been evacuated to shelters.

Production will transition from Michigan to Florida over the next two months. Potential supply gaps and low yields are expected as the storm impacts farms throughout the Southeastern United States. Below is a list of current and upcoming growing regions, as well as key commodities, that will be affected by Hurricane Irma.


  • Michigan
    • This week’s cool temperatures will slow production; weather is expected to improve by next week
    • The cucumber and squash seasons will wind down by late September
    • Bell pepper supplies will ship through the first week of October
  • North Carolina
  • Cucumber and squash production is currently underway; the season is scheduled to run through mid-October
  • Growers will begin harvesting bell peppers over the next week; that season will continue through late October
  • Tropical storm conditions are expected by Monday, September 11 and could shorten the North Carolina season
  • Bell pepper harvesting will begin by September 14
  • Although the season is scheduled to run through early November, tropical storm conditions are expected by Monday, September 11 and could shorten the South Carolina season
  • South Carolina


  • Georgia
    • Cucumber and squash production will begin by mid-September
    • Bell peppers are planted now; growers will start harvests by October 12
    • The Georgia season will run through mid-December
    • Crop-damaging winds are forecast to reach 70 miles per hour; rain totals will reach up to three inches
  • North Florida
  • Bell pepper, cucumber, and squash production will begin by mid-October, but may be delayed or cancelled depending on the storm’s impact
  • Further plantings have been delayed until Irma passes through the region and damage is assessed
  • Below-normal volume is expected as the region begins production
  • How much the hurricane will impact North Florida is uncertain; however, heavy rains and high wind speeds are forecast
  • Florida’s citrus crop is mainly directed to the juice market
  • Citrus trees can typically withstand 40-50 mph winds
    • The current windspeed of Hurricane Irma is topping 170 mph, but will decrease after making landfall
    • If Florida loses supplies, the juice industry will move demand to Brazilian juice oranges as well as domestically grown, fresh-market oranges
  • Cucumber harvesting is underway in Baja, Mexico (shipping into California)
  • Mainland Mexico’s cucumber and squash seasons will start by early October (shipping into Nogales)
  • Bell pepper production will begin by October 16
  • Sufficient supplies are expected as the fall season ramps up
  • Considerable demand will move to Mexico as the 2017-2018 season starts
  • Bell pepper harvesting will begin in the Imperial desert region by early October
  • Adequate stocks are expected during this timeframe
  • South Florida
  • Mexico (into Nogales, Arizona and South Texas)
  • California


  • South Florida
    • Approximately 20% of bell pepper, cucumber, and squash supplies have already been planted
    • Production of all commodities historically begins by November 1
    • Significant yield loss and seasonal delays are expected
    • Damage to Florida’s infrastructure and Florida’s ability to replant and ramp up production will determine how high markets will reach if Mexico remains the major source for the winter bell peppers, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, etc.


  • North Florida
    • Strawberry production typically starts in late December on the northwestern side of Florida’s Plant City growing region
    • Although the season begins in late December, plantings have already been put into place
    • Damage to early plantings is expected, but plants will likely rebound
    • Mexico is primary region in winter months; Florida is used as back up

Please contact your Markon customer service representative for more information.

©2017 Markon Cooperative, Inc. All rights reserved.