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Hurricane Michael: Significant crop damage expected in Florida Panhandle

Hurricane Michael impacted about 1 million acres of field crops and 3.6 million acres of upland forest in Florida, according to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

The most serious damage affects about 200,000 acres of crops in Bay, Gulf, Franklin, Liberty, Calhoun, Washington, Jackson and Gadsden counties, where winds hit 111 mph to 156 mph.

Panhandle areas that produce horticultural crops, such as winter vegetables, fruit and nut trees, and ornamental plants, are still being assessed, said Alan Hodges, director of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Economic Impact Assessment Program.

Dollar figures were not available, but they should be later this week or early next week.

In that core area, Florida's cotton crop could be a near-total loss. Harvesting only began recently and more than 90 percent of the crop remained in the field, Hodges said in a news release. About 40 percent of the peanut crop in that area was lost, with smaller losses likely in less-affected areas.

Damage to Florida's planted-pine trees should be significant but will take longer to assess.

"Things are moving forward, but we want to be deliberate and careful in our work," Hodges said. "It takes some time, because of the severity of the damage in some counties, the challenges involved in reaching hardest-hit areas, and the fact that rescue efforts are still in progress."

Contact Graham Brink at gbrink@tampabay.com. Follow @GrahamBrink.

TAMPA BAY TIMES COVERAGE: HURRICANE MICHAEL

DESTRUCTION:In Cape San Blas, a wary walk to find out what Michael left behind.

FIERCE: Mexico Beach locals banding together to survive

REGULATION: Is it time to rewrite Florida's building code?

END OF THE ROAD: Life on Alligator Point.

30 IMAGES: The Times eyewitness account to damage inflicted by Hurricane Michael after landfall

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