Triad Farms, Wineries Prepare for Possible Irma Impacts

Vineyard owners scramble to save harvest from potential damage from Irma. Too much rain can dilute the sweetness of the grapes. Too much wind could knock over the vines. 

TRIAD, NC -- Tropical Storm Irma is not expected to have widespread impacts across North Carolina as other states experienced when it was a Hurricane.

However, that doesn't mean the rain and winds that it does bring won't be an issue.

Triad farms and wineries are preparing for the worst possible outcome as Tropical Storm Irma heads north.

The scramble is on at Whitaker Farms in Climax, NC where workers are picking and processing as many tobacco leaves as they can ahead of the rain from Irma.

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“Our are tobacco is organic,” said Faylene Whitaker, co-owner of Whitaker Farms. “You can't put it in the barn wet or it will come out black.”

But the bigger concern is the wind.

Whitaker Farms has over 230 acres of tobacco leaves still in the field that could be destroyed if the winds get strong enough.

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“It will be our profit for the year,” said Whitaker. “What's left in the field helps cover our expenses for the year and our livelihood.”

A few miles down the road, at Native Son Vineyard in Randleman, Michael Falcone has spent the week mowing grass and trimming vines to protect his winery.

Falcone says too much rain from Irma could dilute the sweetness of their grapes.

“We probably lost about a ton of grapes last year because of the excessive amount of rain,” said Falcone.

Falcone is also worried about the storm’s winds knocking over his vines and ruining his harvest.

“We are just starting to grow. We are just starting to get ahead,” said Falcone. “But if we have a catastrophe like that, we would have to start over.”

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With the preparation work done, now all they can do is wait and hope.

“If you are a farmer, there is always something,” said Whitaker. “We just do the best we can and pray God takes care of us.”

Whitaker says they do have crop insurance which will cover the cost of their expenses if their harvest is ruined.

But it won't cover the money they would make in profits to support their farm and family for the year.

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