September puts us in the second half of our hurricane season. So far this season we have been lucky again. As I am writing this, the tropics are exploding with potential storms, in fact the mainland U.S. may possibly be hit with two hurricanes at the same time! I am always concerned about the weather and want to be ready for any potential storm situation. I do not like to rely on the local news weather reporters. You notice that they often have different forecasts. The best information is found online at the NOAA website. Look for Hawaii Satellite Products. Here you will find the most reliable weather reports; they are surprisingly accurate.
This obsession with weather is because my Waianae farm was ravaged by Hurricane Iniki: metal street lamp greenhouse posts were bent, shade cloth was torn, and the orchids went airborne. Imagine orchids and their labels strewn about everywhere and the pots all at the end of the greenhouse. From this I learned an important lesson: affix your orchid label to your orchids, especially your good ones. I now use a hole punch and tie wire, and affix the label to the stake which I tie my orchids to--this way the label stays with the orchid at all times. This also prevents grandchildren from "helping" with your orchids by pulling out the labels.
Other storm preparations include securing loose items in your yard, especially the orchids. No one wants to get hit by a flying orchid plant! Maybe putting your plants in the lanai or garage would be a good solution. Definitely take down hanging orchids, as they will be the first to go. I would do this before the heavy rains, but if the plants are already sopping wet, bringing them indoors can encourage fungal infections.
Many orchid growers make their greenhouses so that the shade cloth is removable; this way they can remove the cloth right before the strong winds and reattach it right after. This will often save their greenhouse structure. I know of one grower who attached his shade cloth with #12-14 copper wire. Because of its softness, when the winds go strong enough the twisted wires unravel, saving the shade cloth from tearing or damaging the greenhouse.
I hope we make it through November and another hurricane season. Like the coronavirus, it too will eventually pass. Until then, let's practice safe habits for ourselves and our orchids.
The Windward Orchid Society meets at 7:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month at the King Intermediate School Cafeteria, located at 46-155 Kamehameha Hwy. in Kaneohe.
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