Recent power outages in Northern and Central California created frustration, worry — and a run on disaster-related supplies such as generators.
For floral professionals who depend on a consistent cold chain for their product, the outages also caused headaches. Denise Boldway, owner of Blossoms Florist in Eureka, told the Los Angeles Times last week that she had to resort to “getting some power via an extension cord connected to a generator in her RV.”
Unfortunately, the generator wasn’t strong enough to power her cooler.
“I take what I need out of the cooler and close the door,” Boldway told the newspaper on Oct. 9. “I’m probably going to lose some flowers.”
“Power outages will undoubtedly affect the supply chain,” said Farai Madziva, vice president of Kitayama Brothers Inc. The company’s farms, located along the coastal area of Santa Cruz, are in a “low fire danger area” and didn’t experience outages.
“The cold chain is the first to suffer,” he added. “Without power to run the coolers, flowers will warm up quickly resulting in loss of vase life, increase in botrytis related problems as well poor hydration. Without power and back-up generators, most floral companies will not be able to run their computer systems for inventory and sales management.”
He also noted that irrigation, greenhouse climate control systems, water purification and crop protection systems all depend on electricity. “Most farms will not survive more than 12 hours of power outage without serious consequences and losses to crops due to heat, desiccation and possible influx of pests and diseases,” he said.
Former SAF President Terril Nell, Ph.D., AAF, agreed with that timeline, and said it also applied to other segments.
“I suspect that wholesalers and retailers in the areas where the power was shut off lost considerable numbers of flowers unless they had a backup generator,” he said. “Coolers are not going to maintain cold temperatures for long after electricity is off.”
In the August 2019 issue of Floral Management, longtime contributor Derrick P. Myers, CPA, CFP, PFCI, president of Crockett, Myers & Associates, outlined steps all business owners can take to better prepare for unexpected disasters. Find out more.
Mary Westbrook is the editor in chief of Floral Management magazine.