July 26, 2010

Tropical Storm Bonnie spares south Florida crops

Tropical Storm Bonnie has struck south Florida but in early reports, grower-shippers say the first tropical storm of the season hasn’t caused any major damage.

“We dodged a big bullet,” said Peter Schnebly, co-owner and chief executive officer of Fresh King Inc., Homestead, Fla. “It was just a nice little rain storm for us.”

Midnight on July 22, the night before the storm made landfall at Cutler Bay, Fla., just north of the Homestead-Florida City avocado and tropicals growing region, brought the last big gust of wind that growers experienced.

The storm, however, didn’t blow any fruit to the ground, Schnebly said.

Mary Ostlund, director of marketing for Homestead-based Brooks Tropicals Inc., said the storm’s 40 mph winds weren’t damaging.

“We did get a lot of rain but we haven’t seen a lot of damage,” she said July 23. “Sometimes, 40 mph can cause some damage but so far have not heard anything about any kind of damage.”

Ostlund said the Bonnie, which on the afternoon of July 23 was moving over southwest and western Florida and in the Gulf of Mexico heading towards the Louisiana coast, left some branches in the roads.

In mid- and late July, south Florida avocado grower-shippers are normally in the peak of their June-January production.

Because of the severe cold that struck the growing region last winter, Ostlund said that peak has been delayed until mid-August.

Though volume so far is normal, the deal is running about a month late, she said
Doug Ohlemeier, The Packer

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