Hurricane Matthew Pummeled Florida’s Cut Foliage Industry
Although Hurricane Matthew, a category 5 storm that plowed through the Caribbean and the Southeastern United States in early October, caused far fewer fatalities and property damage than meteorologists anticipated, it nevertheless wreaked havoc on Florida’s cut foliage farms that supply florists throughout North America.
“The wind damage across the cut foliage industry of our area is severe, with some estimates placing total loss at more than 50 percent and some growers seeing 100 percent losses,” Jana Register, director of sales and marketing at FernTrust — a co-op of 13 family farms — in Seville, Fla., said in a news release. She added that florists should expect higher prices and limited product availability through Valentine’s Day.
“Both the saran shade structures and the natural oak hammocks were affected, so all Florida foliages will be in relative short supply until the spring crops come in next year. This is especially true of leather leaf,” Register said. “Growers are facing not only diminished sales but staggering repair costs that have necessitated significant price increases on most all Florida-grown foliages.”
Michele Sutton, president at Sutton Fernery in Miami, and Julie Puckett, of Wm. F. Puckett Inc. in Barberville, shared similar sentiments, as reported by The Produce News.
“Everybody here suffered a lot of damage but we feel that, with what we have left, we can squeak through,” Puckett said. “Prices are going to have to go up because of the shortage. We are all hoping and praying that we will be able to rebuild and get through this really hard time. We are all doing our best and we are trying hard to take care of our customers who take care of us.”