Hurricane Tolerance

Few crops can boast the degree of tolerance pineapple has to hurricanes. Antigua endured four major hurricanes within five years (Luis 1995, Georges 1998, Jose 1999, and Lennie 1999). Hurricane Luis pounded Antigua with 150 mph winds for 36 hours, while Georges and Jose lasted only six and four hours respectively. Even so, our plant population has doubled in the same time period.

Two major factors contribute to this amazing ability of pineapple plants to continue to grow and produce after such an horrendous event. The first factor is the resilience of the pineapple leaf to mechanical damage. Virtually every living plant will have most of their leaf canopy and limbs torn away by hurricane force winds, and then drop the rest of their leaves soon after the hurricane has passed. The form of the pineapple leaf (channeled), their strong fibrous structure, and tough cuticle surface enables the leaves to resist destruction.

Secondly, the roots of the pineapple are of two distinct types. The first roots to establish are thick, tough anchoring roots reaching to 16 inches depth. These are able to keep the plant anchored in high winds so that the fine fibrous roots, responsible for most of the nutrient uptake, are kept intact and functioning. In this way, the outer row of pineapple plants is able to shield plants behind them from the major effects of these winds.

We are indeed fortunate to have this resilient crop under the prevailing conditions.