Winter storm leaves East Texas plant nursery owners counting their losses

Local News

TYLER, Texas (KETK) – After last weeks snow and ice brought Texas to a stand still, one type of business that has taken massive losses are plant nurseries.

In Jacksonville, Matt Rowe, a co-owner of Rowe Farms the wholesale plant nursery Rowe Farms shared how preparation kept his business alive.

A week ago, the greenhouses at Rowe Farms were covered in ice, sleet and snow, a deadly combination for plants.

Before the storm, Rowe said he tested all heaters and back-up generators.

“There’s really not a whole lot you can do other than just to hunker down and prepare for the storm that’s coming,” Rowe said.

Without the heaters, the plants would have froze to death in the greenhouses. At Rowe Farms, most of the plants are targeted for a spring and summer climate.

“These plants just can’t handle it…they will die,” Rowe said.

Unfortunately, the preparation did not save Rowe Farms from all damage. According to Rowe, plants that were close to the side-walls of the greenhouse did experience some freeze-damage.

“Overall we did not experience much damage. We were very fortunate,” Rowe said.

At Suarez Plant Farm in New Summerfield, 40 out of 71 of their greenhouses collapsed due to the intense snowfall and sleet.

“They pretty much kept on going like a domino effect,” Vicente Suarez, owner of Suarez Plant Farm said. “Just one after the other they all started falling.”

When the greenhouses caved, almost all of the plants were destroyed due to ice burns.

“We had a lot of stuff that was ready to sell…but now we’re back to square one,” Suarez said.

Suarez said his farm will possibly be looking at at least $500,000 worth of damages which was almost the same amount as he put into his business.

“I don’t think we’re going to be able, at least this year…to make a profit,” Suarez said. “If we can salvage some of the plants we can make it enough to pay everybody off and that’s it.

Suarez and his team have already repaired a few of their greenhouses, but most repairs will possibly have to wait until the summer.

Although the devastation took a financial toll on Suarez and his business, he is staying positive.

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