State of emergency declared, crops in peril from El Nino rains

Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in Florida on Wednesday following two months of soaking rains that damaged crops in seven counties, including Palm Beach.

A field of flooded parsley in Belle Glade.

A field of flooded parsley in Belle Glade.

The executive order relaxes restrictions on weight, height, length and width of commercial vehicles transporting the crops so they can get to processing plants before spoiling.

The Florida Department of Transportation will issue special temporary permits for vehicles transporting harvested crops.

January was the wettest month on record as recorded by the South Florida Water Management district with more than 9 inches of rain in its 16 counties. That’s  7 inches and 476 percent of what’s normal.

Record rains strain canals and Lake Okeechobee. 

Sugar cane growers say this harvest season's wet weather has wreaked havoc with their fields. When it's wet, cane cannot be harvested. The mills, which normally operate 24-7 during the harvest season, have had to shut down on numerous days because no cane was coming in. This could be the longest harvest season ever for Palm Beach County's biggest crop.

Sugar cane growers say this harvest season’s wet weather has wreaked havoc with their fields. When it’s wet, cane cannot be harvested. The mills, which normally operate 24-7 during the harvest season, have had to shut down on numerous days because no cane was coming in. This could be the longest harvest season ever for Palm Beach County’s biggest crop.

Sweet corn, the Everglades Agricultural Area’s largest vegetable crop, has experienced a 50 percent loss to date. The planting season runs for about four more weeks, so the full acreage might not be planted. The EAA has an eight-week period to sell the spring sweet corn crop.

EAA growers together market more than 7.5 million 50-ear boxes of sweet corn in the spring, or nearly 1 million boxes a week.

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