Florida’s Nursery Industry Slammed Again by a Hurricane

Hurricane Wilma slammed through some of Florida’s most concentrated nursery growing areas as the storm roared across the southern part of the state’s peninsula. Among the counties hardest hit were Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Hendry, Glades, Lee and Collier.

“Nursery growers were hammered yet again by destructive winds and flooding rains,” said Ben Bolusky, Florida Nursery, Growers & Landscape Association’s (FNGLA) executive vice president. “Nursery shade houses and greenhouses are literally flattened exposing many sensitive foliage plants. Many nurseries are also without power rendering needed irrigation systems inoperable.”

More than 2,600 production nurseries in these counties were in harm’s way representing a third of Florida’s $9.9 billion nursery and landscape industry. Many of these very same growers were hit head-on by at least two of last year’s hurricanes. Nursery growers in Miami-Dade County were in the throes of rebuilding from the estimated $370 million in nursery crop losses caused by Hurricane Katrina. These losses were then compounded by Hurricane Rita just weeks before Wilma struck.

Nursery damage is believed to be extensive and widespread. However, due to power outages and downed communication lines, it is too early to assess the full scope of the crop loss, structural damage and business interruption caused by Hurricane Wilma. FNGLA expects to have preliminary assessment figures by the end of the week.

“Last year, Florida’s nursery industry proved its resiliency when it was pummeled by four storms,” said Richard Carroll, FNGLA president. “Eight hurricanes in 15 months is an unprecedented challenge, but this is a big state and a big industry. Our growers will again pick up the pieces and rebound.”

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