Rain puts damper on watermelon yield - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Rain puts damper on watermelon yield

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June 25, 2004

Worth County- Workers quickly load trucks of watermelons hoping to beat afternoon showers.

"We're always fortunate to have it because as farmers we always need the rain, but right now we've been getting a little bit too much," says Jason Jones.

Growers at Melons Incorporated of Georgia even use tractors to tow their loads out of soggy fields, but the wet weather has been more than just an inconvenience.

"Watermelons like rain, and especially when a watermelon starts to get ripe it will suck up all that rain and then in the filed the watermelon will just bust, and then the ones that just coming on that aren't ready yet it will just make them fall off the vine."

Jones has worked with his father and uncle for 13 years and he's never seen as season this bad.

"I've seen the price be this bad, but as far as the rain and getting the trucks in here that we need to load, yes, that's been the worse I've seen it."

Normally, Melons Inc. has workers sorting watermelons on 4 conveyor belts and loading 40 to 50 tractor-trailers a day. Now Jones says they're down to just one or two sorting lines and 15 trucks.

"The market has been bad this year. The chain stores are putting the orders further off for the Fourth of July and that's hurting us because we've had watermelons ready for two weeks now, so we're having watermelons burn up in the field too."

Still, Jones remains optimistic.

"I think we'll be able to recoup. This business you have to rely on God, and God's going to always look after us."

The up side is that all the rain has prevented the watermelons from burning and blistering in the fields.

Posted at 3:45 PM by elaine.armstrong@walb.com