The effects of the 2004 hurricane season on greenhouse vegetable production in Florida

Jeanmarie M. Mitchell, Daniel J. Cantliffe

Abstract


The 2004 hurricane season proved to be one of Florida's worst. The four hurricanes (Charley, Francis, Ivan and Jeanne) caused total agricultural losses at over $2 billion. In response, the federal government appropriated $13 billion of emergency assistance, of which Florida received a half billion dollars for agricultural disaster assistance. Many of Florida's producers were eligible for up to $80,000 in aid. Among those who tried, but failed to qualify for this aid, were greenhouse vegetable producers. Although the greenhouse vegetable industry in Florida is small, it is expanding, and the present growers suffered millions of dollars in damages from the hurricanes in 2004. A survey was conducted in March, 2005 to assess both hurricane damages in 2004 and the present status of the greenhouse vegetable industry in Florida. Twenty growers were interviewed representing 64.1 acres or 86% of the greenhouse house vegetable industry as reported by Tyson et al. in 2004. Eighty percent of the greenhouse vegetable producers surveyed suffered some type of damage as a result of the hurricanes. Of these, 50% had crop damage and 75% suffered structural damages. Estimated totals for damages incurred were predicted to be over $4 million. Other information collected in the survey included production area, greenhouse type, size, crops grown, media used and marketing strategies. This research examined the status of the greenhouse industry in Florida following the recent hurricanes, the increased importance of greenhouse production to Florida and the need to lobby for government assistance following natural disasters.

Keywords


protected agriculture; hydroponics; soilless culture

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283