Main content area

Hurricane Katrina: perspective from the southern horticultural laboratory

Pounders, C., Marshall, D., Posadas, B.
HortScience 2006 v.41 no.3 pp. 680
horticulture, agricultural research, research facilities, greenhouses, hurricanes, agricultural history, Carya illinoinensis, pecans, Vernicia fordii, tung oil, economic analysis, disasters, climatic factors, Mississippi
Surviving extremes of climate is a fundamental component of horticultural production and research. The Southern Horticultural Laboratory has weathered many storms including Hurricane Camille and now Hurricane Katrina. The name of the research station has changed twice, both times following massive hurricanes. Before Hurricane Camille in 1969, the station title was the Tung Research Unit. After the devastation of the tung industry by Camille, the research focus changed to blueberries and other small fruit crops with a corresponding name change to Small Fruit Research Unit in 1976. The research objectives expanded to include ornamental research in 2001. Post Hurricane Katrina, the unit was renamed the Thad Cochran Southern Horticultural Laboratory to reflect the station's expanded research mission. This paper chronicles how the station reacted to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. It also evaluates economic vitality of commodities researched at the station in contrast with storm effects on pecan and the demise of tung production. Katrina produced some temporary interruptions in production but no drastic restructuring of the type experienced with tung production after Camille is anticipated. Hurricanes are inevitable for the Gulf Coast region. Wise planning and implementation of preventative measures to protect horticultural crops and research will determine future success.