Worth County --- It's harvest time for one of Southwest Georgia's largest money crops, watermelons. The hot, dry spring has made it tough on melon farmers, and cut the quantity of the crop.
Workers are busy throwing watermelons from a field in Worth County. It's hot, hard work to harvest what has been a difficult crop to grow. Lack of rain meant lots of irrigation was needed, at great expense to the farmers.
Watermelon farmer Jason Jones said, "The rise of diesel fuel and price of energy, it has doubled what it usually cost us to grow a watermelon this year."
But Jones won't not get double for his watermelons at the store. "No, we won't."
Because of the lack of moisture, most of the vines have produced one good melon, but the usual second and third yield did not mature. , "So we got only got about a half a crop. Where we usually go over a field three or four times, we might go over it twice this year," Jones said.
At the Melon's Incorporated loading docks, the watermelons grown in fields across Worth County are boxed and then loaded onto trucks. Most will go to large retail grocery stores like Wal-Mart or Publix.
Jones said while they have only half a crop, what they do have is sweet and delicious. "The quality is very good this year. What's on the vine is very good this year."
While this crop was expensive to grow, the prices they are getting for their melons are about 13 to 15 cents more per pound than last year's crop. Thousands of pounds of the juicy melons are moving through the Jones loading operation this week, as they are glad to have grown this many good watermelons during a hot, dry spring.
Georgia is a close second to Florida in overall watermelon production, growing about 25,000 to 26,000 acres annually.