Midwest Growers Weather Storms

Midwest Growers Weather Storms

This spring season may very well go on record as one of the stormiest. While torrential rains flooded landscapes and ruined plant sales, high winds and hail damaged greenhouses.

“In 23 years of being a grower, I have never seen anything like this,” says Robin Waldrop Sr. of First Stage Greenhouses near South Bend, Ind. “Sales in April were way down due to cold, dark, wet weather. On top of that, every one of our greenhouses were nailed with hail ranging from golf ball size down to pea size. The pea size did the most damage and all the poly roofs will have to be changed. Thank God for insurance! We have had so much rain, it is standing in places I have never seen it pool before. We are pumping out as much as we can, but with the ground being so saturated, it has nowhere to go.”

Heading into Memorial Weekend, Waldrop was anticipating 90-degree weather. “While that will help dry things out, it isn’t going to do much for sales and the product we’re sitting on,” he says. “2011 will be a growing year that I will never forget!”

Winds continue to wreak havoc in Oberlin, Ohio, where Green Circle Growers has weathered two fierce storms in less than a year. On May 25, at least three acres of greenhouses were damaged. Fortunately, none of the 150 employees who were working that evening were hurt. Last July, a more torrential storm damaged nearly 15 acres across the street at a different part of the 100-acre facility. The toll was $3 million with $1 million being poinsettias and plugs.

Fortunately, the toll from last week’s storm was significantly less. On both occasions, the new orchid ranges were spared. “The damage was not nearly to the extent as last summer but very similar in that it was caused by microbursts with a random pattern of destruction, which can be seen in the broken glass, roof structures and blown-out sidewalls,” says Scott Giesbrecht, Green Circle’s sales and marketing manager. “The majority of the damage was facility related, not product.” Most of the damage was in corridors, where Green Circle hangs ferns and foliage baskets.

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