Produce prices up, thanks to fuel, now irrigation - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Produce prices up, thanks to fuel, now irrigation

Store owners say produce prices are the highest they've been in years.

They attribute a lot of it to high fuel costs. More local produce will soon be available, lowering the transportation fees, but hot dry conditions over the last month are sending costs higher.

To keep what farmers have in their fields from dying on the vine produce farmers say they're having to water nearly every day, making their cost to bring that produce to market a lot higher than if they could just get some rain.

In Terrell County the irrigation pumps seem to be running non-stop and it's still early in the growing season.

"We haven't had a rain since April 5th, about five weeks ago that's amounted to anything so its been a hot, dry one so far," said Mark Daniel, Mark's Melon Patch Owner.

Forcing some of Mark Daniel's crops to mature more quickly.

"The maturity of the corn and all the vegetable crops that I grow are based on heat units the amount of heat that it gets and we've been getting a lot of that so its going to speed the process up," said Daniel.

It's not just Terrell County, local growers bringing squash to Tommy Mc's store are struggling just the same. Without irrigation the crop wouldn't make it.

"He was telling me it's going to be 96, 97 degrees for the next couple of days it's going to be really tough on it even though he has it under water," said Tommy McDowell, Owner of Tommy Mc's.

Add the cost of more water and high diesel prices to the rising transportation costs to get it there and sellers say they're prices are higher than they've been in years.

"I just don't think produce will ever be as reasonable as it once was ever three or four years ago," said McDowell.

There may not be a break on the horizon, crops like peanuts just getting started are forcing farmers to expend a lot of their water resources right now.

"Right now we're putting in things like peanuts, so they're going to take quite a bit of water, to come up germinate and get established and with a lack of rain people are going to have to turn on those irrigation systems," said James Morgan, UGA extension agent-Dougherty.

Sellers tell us in most cases, they're forced to pass the cost along to customers.

Produce that comes from even farther like bananas from South America could cost you the most. Produce markets say where they could buy a box of bananas for as little as $8.00 they're now paying $20.00 for a box.

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