Florida produce industry assesses the damage of hurricane Irma

Excerpts from an article written by Astrid van den Broek and Rebecca Dumais, 9/19/17 for Fresh Plaza
Florida growers of exotic and tropical produce were severely impacted by hurricane Irma last week. “Virtually all farms and groves in Miami Dade county were affected by the storm in one way or another,” says Peter Leifermann with Brooks Tropicals. “Overall, we estimate about 90 percent of the remaining Florida avocado crop was lost due to Hurricane Irma,” Leifermann said. “There are some groves that have not been fully assessed because the rows are blocked by downed trees and limbs – there is a lot of clean-up work to be done. We do have some groves of late varieties that are located more north that central Homestead and were spared the worse of it, but even those groves lost some fruit,” he added.
Supply gap
As a result of the hurricane, SlimCado avocado availability will be extremely limited until Brooks Tropicals begins its Dominican season around the first week in October. “We are looking at only a three-week supply interruption,” Leifermann said. The company’s carambola season was entering a peak, but limited supplies will be maintained through the coming months. “We look forward to our normal winter crop coming in January.” Brooks’ passion fruit vines were severely damaged as well and Leifermann does not expect a full return until May 2018. The guava grove that was damaged is expected to rebound strongly. Remarkably, the company’s dragon fruit plants weathered the storm. “Hardly any fruit was lost and even much of the bloom withstood the storm,” Leifermann mentioned. “For some fruit, there is a logical increase in wind-scar.”
 

After Irma pizza

 

Irma

Most of Florida’s crops were severely impacted by hurricane Irma. Brooks Tropicals is assessing the extent of these damages. Meanwhile Brooks Tropicals will continue to supply other tropicals, including Caribbean Red papayas from Guatemala, SlimCado avocados from Dominican Republic, and Solo papayas from Brazil.

 

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