Thursday, September 6, 2007

Hurricane Dean Crop Damage Mixed

excerpts from an article by Brian Gaylord 09/05/2007

The papaya crop in Belize suffered significant losses from Hurricane Dean. Mary Ostlund, marketing director for Homestead, FL-based Brooks Tropicals LLC, said that Brooks is still assessing damage to its papaya crop, but she noted that signs are more encouraging than the company initially thought. "Our initial assessment was six to eight months to get back to normal," Ms. Ostlund said. "We'll definitely be back in February 2008 -- six months." She said that the fruit would start coming back in December.

One-third of Brooks Tropicals' papaya acreage is young acreage that tends to survive storm conditions better than older trees, Ms. Ostlund said. Within a week of Hurricane Dean hitting Belize, Brooks Tropicals already was moving along with its recovery. It began re-planting stock from its nursery on Tuesday, Aug. 28.
The company has been doing research and development on prime plants in its nursery stock, so even though January and February may be down or lost months, the company anticipates its papaya production in 2008 to be its highest ever, Ms. Ostlund said.

When Hurricane Dean hit, Brooks Tropicals was in the process of building a new headquarters in Belize that is up to hurricane code. The company also is putting the final touches on a new custom-built packing machine that will be in place in Belize by Thanksgiving.