Southwest Florida farmers just started planting produce, like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash and melons about three weeks ago. It's about 10 percent of the year's veggie production. Gene McAvoy is University of Florida's regional vegetable extension agent in Hendry County. He says farmers are still planting this week, even though Hurricane Irma is projected to hit South Florida this weekend.
"You have to think in terms of markets," he says. "They plant on a weekly basis to provide market projections starting at the end of October. So if you don’t plant something this week and the storm doesn’t happen to come, you’re not gonna have product that corresponding week in November. So you’re gonna plant and take a risk that the crop comes through and if it doesn’t, it's a loss."
He says even if Hurricane Irma washes away all of the vegetables planted so far, it won't be devastating because it's so early in the growing season.