Forest Hill nurseries still assessing winter storm damages
RAPIDES PARISH (KALB) - The Forest Hill nurseries have experienced significant financial hits in the last 12 months with the two hurricanes and the winter storm that came through Central Louisiana.
There are over 200 nurseries in the Forest Hill community that have received damage and the estimated cost for the total damages is in the millions of dollars.
Samantha Young is one of the owners of the Doug Young Nursery and said they believe they’ve lost anywhere between 60 to 70 percent of their crops. This is the time of year that the nurseries are normally sending their plants to their customers.
“It’s been pretty rough between the structures that fell and the plants that are not showing much life. The area has been greatly affected because a lot of people don’t have plants to ship out,” said Young. “For two weeks, we couldn’t ship out anything because of all the ice still on the ground.”
The Doug Young Nursery said they are open right now and are hoping to get more plants this week to make the most out of the spring season.
However, there are some smaller nurseries that former LSU AgCenter professor Allen Owings said may not be able to recover from the storms.
“There’s a couple of smaller growers in Forest Hill that represent a big part of the nursery community. A couple of folks have lost a significant portion of their crops and there may be some early retirements unfortunately that come from this,” said Owings.
Jay Mac Tropicals is the largest wholesale bromeliad grower in the state. The owner, Jay McArthur, said during the ice storm he was trying to save the plants while his greenhouses were collapsing.
In total, McArthur said he could only save 4,000 out of the 25,000 plants he had, and after rebuilding multiple times in the last six months, this is much more than just a financial hit for him.
“To start back over, I’m running out of time and money. I just don’t think so. I can’t fathom ever being this large again,” said McArthur.
McArthur said he doesn’t have the growing space or the plants to do wholesale like he was doing before.
Louisiana Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain spoke with nursery owners and said to keep good records of all the plants that were destroyed as they look to get assistance.
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