As Hurricane Irene churns toward the Mid-Atlantic coast, threatening North Carolina and the Delmarva region, some south Florida growers fear its winds.

Even as Irene is expected to pass 150 miles east of Miami and not directly strike Florida, Bill Brindle, vice president of sales management for Brooks Tropicals Inc., Homestead, Fla., said its winds could harm avocado production.

“We’re fortunate if it doesn’t get any closer,” he said. “We hope it doesn’t get too windy here. Wind can obviously damage the avocados and knock them on the ground. We have a little concern about Hurricane Irene but it looks like will stay far enough away that it won’t affect our crop.”

Brindle said he expects winds to hit 35 mph with possible higher gusts. He said that isn’t rough as the growing region often sees such winds in an occasional afternoon thunderstorm, yet the threat remains relative to how far away the storm remains.

For most other Florida production, growers typically begin field preparations in late August and start plantings for many vegetables in September with production beginning in October.