A delayed produce harvest could hurt Georgia farmers - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

A delayed produce harvest could hurt Georgia farmers

By Delivrine Registre - bio | email

Colquitt County, GA (WALB) - The sun shines through partly cloudy skies on acres of watermelon vines along Highway 37 in Colquitt County. And it is those rain clouds that are causing problems for this year's harvest.

"With all the rain we got to start with, which was 20-plus inches, it delayed planting. And it delayed fertilization applications," said Extension Agent, Glenn Beard.

Tiny watermelons are starting to peak through, but they are about half the size they should be. "All of our farmers are probably seven to 10 days delayed right now. We should be starting to harvest by June 5th, and we are going to be later than that this year," said Beard.

And with such a small window for farmers to hit the July 4th holiday, this could be a problem. "With watermelons, everybody wants them for July the 4th. So if they are not available it could very well effect the price drastically. We just don't know," said Beard.

The excess rainfall is also causing this year's produce to be more expensive to maintain because farmers are having to spray more often against mold and fungus.

"The last two years we have had drought conditions. So we haven't had to worry about the disease issues that we have had this year," said Beard.

But the delay hasn't been all that bad. "Our cabbage crop has seen a little bit of delay, but for whatever reason we are enjoying a better pricing situation," said Beard.

So farmers growing the more than  two thousand acres of watermelon in Colquitt County are left waiting to see the outcome, hoping for the best.

Despite this year's unusual weather, shippers expect strong quality from Georgia's produce. And there is some good news for farmers. Diesel prices are about $2.32 a gallon right now, about half what farmers paid this time last year.

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