Farmers count the cost of hurricane damage
Hurricane Nicole left a trail of widespread and significant devastation to the island’s agricultural sector.
The Category 3 hurricane ripped up newly planted seeds and damaged fruit and vegetable crops that were due to be harvested. Although farmers told The Royal Gazette that the hurricane damage was “par for the course”, many have been forced to start from scratch with vegetables such as carrots, broccoli and cauliflower.
Carlos Amaral from Amaral Farms said that he had estimated losing about 95 per cent of his new plants as a result of the 120mph winds and torrential downpours that lashed the island last Thursday.
“We have basically had to start with a clean slate as a result of the hurricane,” Mr Amaral said. “We were well ahead of schedule with the fall planting for Thanksgiving and Christmas with vegetables like carrots, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, but that has all been wiped out.
“We have lost a lot of time and we can’t get that back. I would say that we lost about 95 per cent of our new plants.
“Our local greens like kale, collards, spinach and string beans have also taken quite a big hit too.”
Mr Amaral added: “Unfortunately it’s par for the course, to be honest. Since the hurricane, we have been clearing up and replanting, as well as trying to salvage whatever we can.
“We knew we were going to get a punch in the face. It was a major hit. But you just have to pick yourself up and get on with the job.”
Meanwhile, Tom Wadson, who runs Wadson’s Farm in Southampton told The Royal Gazette that his banana crop had been devastated by Hurricane Nicole.
“It’s going to take a year for the banana crop to come back,” he said. “For everyone there was a lot of young stuff ripped up. We tried to pull some of it up beforehand and put it in the greenhouse but we still took the hit.
“We were pretty lucky with the onions as they literally started coming up like soldiers the day after the hurricane. We got a lot of water up here too, but the animals made it through OK. We have been out replanting so it’s been a busy few days.”
Patty Hill, from J&J Produce said: “All of our crops were destroyed in the Hurricane.
“Our greenhouses also took a beating, but luckily we moved the poinsettias into the farm shed, so they didn’t get too much damage. It’s a matter of ploughing, replanting, and lots of labour getting fields back into shape and removing debris
“It sets the farmers back two months and fresh vegetables for Christmas is not looking too good. It’s such a shame as two weeks ago all of the crops out there were looking really good.”