Saturday, February 24, 2024

Guiding The Way Forward

USDA’s Southeast Climate Hub developed commodity guides, including peanuts, to help in preparation and recovery from hurricanes.

⋅ BY AMANDA HUBER ⋅

Much of the peanut belt has another distinction, that of being coastal states open to the threat of hurricanes. Peanut season for most of this area is May to October and coincides with hurricane season, which is June to November. 

To help producers remain resilient and productive in the face of this threat, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Southeast Climate Hub, along with other USDA agencies and university Extension experts, developed commodity guides to help prepare for and recover from hurricane events. The Southeast commodity guides contain hurricane preparation and recovery guidance and resource links for the most economically important agricultural commodities in the region.

To Find The Guide

For The Hurricane Preparation and Recovery in the Southeastern United States “Peanut Producers Guide,” go to www.climatehubs.usda.gov/hubs/southeast/topic/hurricane-preparation-and-recovery-southeast-us or www.climatehubs.usda.gov/hubs/southeast and click on “topics,” then “crops,” then “Hurricane Preparation and Recovery Guides.”

Build Resilience Into Your Farm

The Southeast Climate Hub works to deliver science-based knowledge and practical information on climate variability and change to farmers, ranchers and forest land managers. It connects public, academic and private sector organizations with researchers and outreach specialists to deliver technical support and provide tools that help producers cope with challenges associated with drought, heat stress, excessive moisture and changes in pest pressures.

Build a resilient farm so that when the inevitable hurricane comes, recovery is possible.

Nancy Gibson, USDA environmental technician with the Southeast Climate Hub, says the purpose of the guide is to build resilience to and recover more quickly from hurricanes. 

“There are 23 different common agricultural commodities included in the guides, which have details for coastal states from Louisiana to Virginia. The goal is to help producers remain resilient and productive,” she says.

Written By Peanut Specialists And Researchers

The guides are featured on the main page of the Southeast Climate Hub website. The “Peanut Producers Guide” is written by Barry Tillman, University of Florida agronomy professor and assistant director of the North Florida Research and Education Center in Marianna; Dan Anco, Clemson University Extension peanut specialist and David Jordan, North Carolina State University Extension peanut specialist.

The guide focuses on long- and short-term planning and preparation to mitigate the impacts of hurricanes on peanut production, potential impacts of wind and water on peanut production and rebuilding and recovery after a hurricane.

This guide, and those of the other agricultural products, is separated into four primary sections: building a resilient operation, long-term operation maintenance, short-term preparedness and, finally, post-hurricane recovery. 

A Farm Emergency Plan Template

For producers, the section on building a resilient operation outlines a range of considerations and systems that producers can put in place to increase their resilience to hurricanes. Long-term operation maintenance lists specific pre-hurricane actions and periodic checks to be done on an annual basis (before hurricane season) and monthly basis (during hurricane season). The section on short-term preparedness lists specific actions to be done in the week before a hurricane arrives.

Although nothing can prevent a hurricane from disrupting your operation, having a prepared plan and an emergency contact list will take the guesswork out of what to do when the storm has passed.

The final section, post-hurricane recovery, outlines activities that producers can take to minimize their losses following a hurricane. It begins with actions immediately following a hurricane that are focused on safety and continues with ongoing actions a week out and a month out.

The guide also includes an appendix with two customizable templates for a Farm Emergency Plan and an Emergency Contacts List. Both the plan and list should be periodically reviewed, as mentioned in the long-term operation maintenance section. The appendix also includes an initial site planning guide that can be referenced if purchasing or leasing new land, and resource links to helpful federal, state and Extension websites are also referenced throughout the guide.

Hurricane preparedness can have a direct effect on your farm’s profitability and long-term survival. For agricultural operations in hurricane-vulnerable regions, it is critical to have a Farm Emergency Plan in place outlining key tasks and different people’s roles and responsibilities as you brace for the hurricane. PG

Peanut Producers Guide The following is an excerpt from the guide in the section on short-term preparedness. Short-term preparedness (1–7 days before a hurricane is forecast to strike) First and foremost, take whatever precautions necessary to protect your family, your employees and yourself. After that is accomplished, focus on protecting your farm. Once forecasters have put your area in a hurricane’s path, there are a number of precautions you should take to prepare. Crop ■ Harvesting If flooding is likely in certain fields, it is probably better to delay digging until after the hurricane has passed, since the peanut plants can float and be pushed by the wind across flooded fields. While freshly dug plants that are still green are less likely to be blown around by the wind, plants that have dried are more susceptible to be moved by wind and wind-blown rain. ■ Apply fungicides Consider application of fungicide to slow epidemics that could develop from pathogens and subsequent disease. ■ Pivots Park pivots in locations that are: — Accessible to repair in case they topple. — Away from low-lying areas that could flood. — Away from areas where trees and other debris could impact systems.

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