News and notes from Hartsfield-Jackson, the world's busiest airport

Valentine's Day drives more flower inspections at Hartsfield-Jackson

Airport agriculture specialists are seeing a spike in the number of flower shipments that come flooding into Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, driven by Valentine's Day.

Tens of thousands of flowers are shipped to Atlanta from Colombia, Ecuador and other cut-flower producing nations during the busy period leading up to Feb. 14.

Last year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists at Hartsfield-Jackson processed more than 115,000 flowers, nearly double the 62,000 in 2014.

Mosquitoes are less commonly found on flowers shipped here, agriculture specialists say. U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Robert Brisley said the agency is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to address concerns with Zika.

"We're not changing anything in the agriculture procedure," Brisley said.

Agriculture specialists inspect a portion of the flowers that arrive at the airport, checking for insects or disease.

A discovery of an insect can lead to destroyal of the shipment, fumigation or re-exporting.

Valentine's Day is the second busiest period for cut flower shipments. Mother's Day is the busiest, according to Customs officials.


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Business reporter Kelly Yamanouchi covers airlines and the airport.