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Abstract

Tree crops are an important component in the agro-ecosystem of some Caribbean territories for food and income-generation. However, there has been no assessment of the nature of the damage caused to these crops by hurricanes to which the region is prone. In November 2010, a reconnaissance survey was conducted on 44 holdings in St. Lucia and in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) following the passage of hurricane Tomas in October 2010 to assess and characterise the damage done to major fruit tree crops with special emphasis on the food crops, breadfruit and breadnut. Damage ranged from slight branch breakage and defoliation to complete uprooting of breadfruit, breadnut, nutmeg, cocoa, citrus, avocado, coconut and mango. Nutmeg appeared to be the most susceptible species and mango the least susceptible to wind damage. Breadfruit appeared to be more susceptible than breadnut, especially to the most severe types of damage. Severity of damage might be partially due to morphological features such as dense canopies and shallow root systems with production systems, management practices and site characteristics as possible contributory factors. The findings from this survey suggest the need for further research to improve approaches to characterisation and assessment of wind damage on tree crops and to develop suitable management strategies to minimise the effects of wind stress.

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