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Torrential rain damages Louisiana's strawberries

Staff writer |
Between four to more than 16 inches of rain fell on parts of southeast Louisiana over the past week.

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It could not have come at a worst time for farmers, who were gearing up for the first harvest.

In Ponchatoula, considered the heart of the strawberry farms and home of the annual strawberry festival, farmers are assessing the damage and the outlook is not positive, The Advocate reports.

“Well, we lost a lot,” said Mark Liuzza, of Jack Liuzza and Sons farm in Amite, who estimated less than a third of his 30 acres went under water, but the 20 remaining acres still needed work because plants were damaged by the rain.

LSU’s 2015 Louisiana Ag Summary says there were 81 strawberry growers in the state who work 367 acres. The leading producer of strawberries is Tangipahoa Parish, where 285 of those acres lie. The parish experienced widespread flooding in the storms.

Some farmers report their fields were turned into lakes, essentially ruining an entire field of strawberries, while others reported no flooding but heavy losses from the rains, which will delay and reduce their productivity this year.

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