Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hurricane Sandy and the Rum Industry

     All the news of the past week or so has been hovering around Hurricane Sandy and what she will, might, or has done.   I had to do some digging to find out what she has don to the rum companies, but I did find out a few things.   The primary interest seems to be in housing, electricity and the number of deaths wrought by Sandy.
Gordon Clarke
     "Worthy Park is not a pretty sight. They will have some serious setback in terms of breakage of canes," he said.

     Gordon Clarke, director and distillery manager at Worthy Park, said most of the damage was at the Lluidas Vale fields, which is where the majority of the cane delivered to the factory is planted. The estate also plants on lands at Bog Walk and Caymanas Estates.

     Clarke said the area was affected by mostly wind, which "does not kill the cane but it will affect the yields".

Peter McConnell
     Peter McConnell, managing director of Worthy Park Estate, said heavy winds affect the root systems of the plants and that the leaves become shattered, which eventually causes the cane to stop growing. Additionally, the canes tend to lie on the ground during such weather events, and since each joint has a growing eye it will grow a new stalk at each eye that touches the soil, McConnell said.

     Overall, this will lower the sucrose content of the cane.

     "We are estimating that the reduced yield could mean a drop in revenue of over J$160 million as we will make maybe about 2,000 tons of sugar less, using the current prices," said Clarke.

Flooding in Santiago de Cuba
In Cuba it was a similar story.   The storm hit eastern Cuba as a Category 2 hurricane early Thursday. Eleven people died in Santiago and Guantanamo provinces and official news media said the storm caused 5,000 houses to at least partially collapse while 30,000 others lost roofs.   Banana, coffee, bean and sugar crops were damaged.   Flooding of the plantations was the primary concern for the ability to keep the crops from becoming a total loss.

     Haiti, already weakened by the 2010 earthquake probably suffered the most damage of any country. 

   The story keeps repeating itself in each of the Caribbean islands.   Directly, it doesn't appear that there was much damage to the distilleries, but the nearly ready for harvest sugar cane crop throughout the region was damaged severely.   Let's hope that this is the end of the 2012 Hurricane stories, we really don't need any more damage like what Sandy has brought upon the areas of the Caribbean and the Eastern United States.