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Eta is the first tropical cyclone to make landfall in the United States within the month of November in over 20 years posing serious concern for vegetable supply, potentially affecting the industry for the remainder of 2020. Severe shortages and demand-driven markets are expected through November. Tomato demand has shifted entirely to Mexico while Florida crops are now in question pending post-storm reports expected sometime next week once farmers are able to get back into fields and assess crops. Markets will be escalated for the foreseeable future.
Tropical storm Eta’s storm path this week has devastated farm operations where torrential rain and wind have impacted growing regions not once, but twice in the last 5 days. As Eta began approaching south Florida Sunday, farms began halting tomato and eastern veg operations where torrential rain and wind began impacted growing regions, which at that time expected to span only a couple of days. The reality of the scenario has proven to be twice as devastating as previously anticipated.
On Sunday, November 8, Eta began to impact Southwest Florida unleashing heavy rain and strong winds as the storm moved up from Cuba, northwest across the southern part of the state out to the Gulf of Mexico through Tuesday. On Wednesday, Eta stalled in the gulf and regained strength, growing into a hurricane pressing up the Florida coast making landfall early this morning north of Tampa Bay where the storm weakened again into a tropical storm with sustained wind speeds of 60 mph. Eta’s path has continued northeast bringing nearly a foot of rain in some areas today alone.
Farms across Florida are anticipating crop loss and diseased plants affecting quality and yields the rest of the year. Until floodwaters recede and farmers can get back into fields, it is too soon to speculate to what degree the market will suffer in the weeks ahead.