Rain driving up price of produce - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Rain driving up price of produce

June 13, 2005

Albany- In addition to preventing growers from being able to harvest their produce, the rain has also caused some problems for those who sell fruits and vegetables.

Workers at several produce stands say they can still get their hands on pretty good produce right now, but some of the prices are going up, and if the rain continues it could get even worse.

Customer's say Paul's Produce stand is known for having some of the best quality fruit and vegetables in the area, but employees say finding it at a reasonable price has become difficult over the past few weeks.

"We try to pick the best they've got to sell out here, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers," says James Nolan.

They say wet, soggy fields have delayed harvesting, especially on crops like watermelon.

"You're watermelons will definitely be full of water later on," Nolan says.

"Basically the only thing that's suffering will be the quality if we continue to get large amounts of rainfall," says Don Kearce.

Paul's isn't the only place feeling the effects of the wet weather. Don Kearce at Lora Jean's Produce Market gets fresh produce daily. Even though his suppliers are having trouble now, they haven't raised prices yet.

"As a whole it's pretty stable at this point, but if we continue to get a lot of water then we'll see a lot of pricing pressures," says Kearce.

]Pressures he may unfortunately have to pass on to customers. He says overall this years summer produce has been of good quality, but items that lay on the ground like squash and cucumbers are suffering.

Afternoon showers have prevented farmers from being able to properly treat crops with fungicide because as soon as they spray it on, it gets washed away. Still he says it could be worse.

"The rain that we're getting now is going to help things that are not mature, but anything that is mature on the vines at this time would need to be gathered rather quickly," Kearce says.

Some retailers that we spoke to today say instead of raising their prices they may just buy smaller quantities of produce to help keep their costs down if growers have to end up raising theirs.

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