Watermelon growers struggle with Florida avalanche - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Watermelon growers struggle with Florida avalanche

June 17, 2004

Cordele-- Farmers say the melons are as sweet as ever,  but competion from the south is putting a sour taste in some farmers' mouths.

Slinging watermelons is a workout, and these Georgia fruits are worth their weight in gold. "The real big ones we get anywhere from two dollars to three dollars for them," said Willacoochee Farmer Jim Brantley.

But, just 75 yards away, workers from the Sunshine State are slinging their wares for half the price.  "I'm trying to get two dollars for mine," said  Brantley. "They are selling them for a dollar back there."

It's been a slow day for longtime Turner County farmer Randy Myers. "I mean I sit up here all day long try to sell two or three loads, and I have got my help in the fields, so they are waiting the whole time, so I am losing money everytime I haul a load up here."

Myers says cheaper Florida watermelon is pricing him out of the business, but other Georgia farmers are more optimistic. "Really you know you can't hardly compete with them as a whole, but later on in the year when Georgia comes in, Florida is almost through with it, and what happens their quality goes down, their's are sunburnt real bad and they are not a pretty color."

That's when Georgia watermelon is thrown in the mix; bright green and sweet, and that's how Georgia farmers compete.  

Quality that is keeping Georgia watermelon farmers in the game.

Randy Myers says he is only selling two or three loads a day, when he normally sells 25 loads. But farmers say as the season moves on, Georgia melon sales will pick up.

posted at 10:40AM by dave.miller@walb.com