Hurricane Irma update

Hurricane Imra

Hurricane Irma

Update on impact of hurricane on Florida nurseries
Bryan and I traveled to Florida last week to visit as many nurseries as possible to evaluate the damage to Florida growers. The biggest issue they have in Florida is loss of electricity and phone service. Homestead did not have electiricty until the middle of last week.

Apopka and Orlando nurseries have reported the least amount of damage to greenhouse structures. Some have lost their roofs, those that were made of shade cloth and polly. However, most damage will be repaired quickly. There was minimal crop loss, and these growers are doing business as usual.

Most Central Florida and West Palm Beach growers received marginal damage. Most shade cloth structures were blown off, but the crops received minimal damage. Carter Road nursery was one of the nurseries that were not so fortunate, and lost everything, as did a few other nurseries nearby. Carter Road is one of the major suppliers of Dracaenas.

The Homestead area was hit the hardest. Growers are reporting 80-100% loss of shade cloth and structural damage, which resulted in product being sunburnt and unsellable. This will impact the availability of 8”-14” Aglaonema and Dracaena for 4-6 months. Sanseveria, Palms, ZZ’s and Bromeliads fared better. For right now, there is plenty of fall Crotons. Norfolk Pines will be available this fall as usual, although some might need to be sprayed due to small tipping. Most spring crops were not impacted, and should be okay.

We are purchasing as much inventory as quickly as we can ship it. Most nurseries have been very generous due to our long standing relationships. We have increased our inventory on Hawaiian Dracaenas and California grown producers. In about 4-6 weeks a lot of product will not be available for several months. For example, it takes a grower 4-6 months to plant and finish a Dracaena. Nurseries will try and send the best quality they can, but it will not be perfect. Customers should expect some cut off, trimmed leaves, not perfectly shaped bushes and at times shorter product. For interiorscapers, please advise your sales staff to be careful what they spec out for jobs.

There will probably be a price increase from most nurseries, especially the growers in Homestead. As of Friday, we had not received final numbers. All special discounting that was offered in the past has been rescinded from vendors in Florida. We expect to hear pricing adjustments during the next two weeks from each individual nursery.

Overall this is the worst I’ve seen in 10 years. The indoor tropical industry will definitely be severely impacted for the next 6-8 months or longer.

Nurseries in Florida are not asking for donations. In order to help the industry, nurseries have requested bills be paid as quickly as possible. For the next several months, please pay your bills as quickly as possible, whether you buy direct or from Tri State Foliage. This is important, as most nurseries did not carry hurricane insurance due to the deductibles.

All the nurseries thanked us for visiting them to see what is happening, and what efforts they will need to go through in the rebuilding process. We were happy to hear that most of our colleagues at the nurseries received minimal damages to their homes. Although, most did not have a generator to run air conditioning during the heat that has followed the storm.

For more information, please contact Bryan or I to discuss.

Dan Johnston,

photos of our trip can be viewed here 

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