Puerto Rico: Vista Farms comes back strong after devastating hurricane

In September 2017, a substantial part of the Puerto Rican nursery Vista Farms was damaged by hurricane Maria. How is this farm that cultivates a variety of Bougainvillea, Hibiscus, and Ixora young plants doing now, about half a year later? We spoke to Jerome O'Neill, the owner of the company.

Jerome O'Neill at the IPM Essen 2018 in Germany

According to O'Neill, the actual damage to the farm was limited, but the main challenge was the aftermath of the strong winds. "At many farms in the area, the greenhouses were pulled out the ground. Fortunately, ours were not damaged as we could put the plastic down on time. Also the inventory was not damaged, which enabled us to ship out the young plants two weeks after the hurricane. The main issue, however, was to get the production of the cuttings back on track. 10 acres of stock was damaged by the strong winds and was defoliated. “We had to prune all of the defoliated branches and wait for them to grow back. It took about 6 to 8 weeks to get new cuttings and this resulted in an inventory loss of 1 million."

Stock defoliated after the devastating visit of hurricane Maria

However and fortunately, they were back on track quite fast. "It took some time to get the cuttings, but after we managed to foliate the stock again, we were completely back in business." And business seems to go well. They sell to five continents directly and through brokers and according to O'Neill, the sales - particularly in Europe - are increasing.

Vista Farms in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico, back in business again

What else did the hurricane bring? A name for one of their new Ixora varieties! "During the time of the hurricane, we were in the process of naming a new white Ixora variety. After the hurricane, we decided to name it Maria."

California Spring Trials
Like previous years, Jerome O'Neill we be present at the California Spring Trials with a booth at the Pacific Plug and Liner location in Watsonville, CA. To make reservations please click here.

For more information
Vista Farms
Jerome O'Neill
Email: jerome@vistafarms.com

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