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Invasive Fruit Fly Devastates Some South Florida Farms

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) --  The sun may be coming out for an issue that has been threatening South Florida crops but it's already too late for some farmers in the area.

Miami-Dade agriculture officials say they have not spotted an Oriental Fruit Fly for about a month, giving hope that the invasive species may be gone.

All this after the county took on a major eradication program to get rid of the flies. Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putman declared a state of agricultural emergency due to the fly infestation in the county.

The infestation has affected various parts of Miami-Dade after the fly was first discovered in August in a field near Homestead. Now, the large area West of the zoo is under quarantine.

Jamie Albury and her family own J&A Farms.  Since they're in the quarantine area they have to treat their crops for the fruit flies 30 days before harvest, but because of the warm weather, the crops grew faster and the beans are ready early.  They can't harvest yet and they can't wait.

"We're being blocked at every turn.  Everything we try to be able to harvest this field, we're getting a road block," said Jamie Albury.

They say they cant wait a few more days because the beans will go bad and they'll dry up.

"They're getting old and drying out. By the time they get to the stores, they'll be shriveled up and dry and no good to sell," said George Suarez of J&A Farms.

That's $80 thousand worth of crops gone, not to mention the $50 thousand to plant and treat them. But there's something that makes it more frustrating.

"Right here is the quarantine, across the street where those palm trees are not the quarantine. So if this field was located just across the street , we would not have any issues with harvesting this bean field," said Jamie.

Farmers aren't the only ones who have to follow quarantine rules. Homeowners do to. Electronic signs in Country Walk and in the quarantine area warn backyard fruit can't move out of the area.

"You can take those fruits that you've grown, you can serve them to your family members and friends, but don't let them take the fruit themselves off of your premise. Don't move it," said Debbie Brady with the Dade Farm Bureau.

Time is almost up for those plants. By this weekend, those green beans will be bad. What will happen is they'll come through and plow the whole field so it will be empty.

On Sunday, community members are set to gather in support of  other farmers in the area who have been affected. They are expected to gather starting at 3:00 p.m. at the corner of Krome Avenue (177th Avenue) and SW 136th Street.

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