One industry expert says Iowa consumers will likely start seeing prices rise on their fresh produce, due to Hurricane Wilma hitting Florida last month. The big storm disrupted wide areas of Florida’s winter vegetable crops just as harvest was about to begin there. Randy Bohaty is director of a Midwest produce distributor and says all sorts of crops were effected.

Bohaty says to expect price jumps on: green beans, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. Sugar cane fields were also flooded and some orange groves were badly damaged. He can’t yet estimate how high produce prices may rise in the wake of the hurricane.

Bohaty say the demand for fresh produce is consistent nationwide and other Florida growers who weren’t hit by the storm will see more pull on their products, leading them to raise prices to compensate. He says one saving grace will be that growers in California and Mexico can share some of their high yields.

Bohaty says most of the Florida orange crops appear to have weathered much of the storm fairly well and he sees little impact on orange juice prices in the Midwest.

Another Midwest produce market analyst, Doug Cunningham, says prices on fresh veggies are most certainly going up due to Hurricane Wilma. Cunningham says “I think it would have a great impact. Anytime you lose the crop, it’s going to shoot prices up greatly.” While earlier hurricanes that hit the Gulf Coast heavily damaged oil drilling platforms and refineries, shocking our gasoline prices through the roof, Cunningham says this latest storm will soon make a larger dent in our home budgets.

Cunningham says it may be a bigger impact than what happened with gas prices, as produce prices may rise 300 to 400-percent. Florida provides more than half of the nation’s fresh vegetables between the months of November and February.