Echols County is the carrot capital of the south and the carrots are looking good despite a drought. As farmers approach the end of the carrot harvest, they're starting to focus on other crops and they're worried the drought may hurt them.
Agronomist Russ Hamlin pulls up carrots. He says Vidalia may be known for its sweet onions but Echols County is known for its sweet carrots. Circle C Produce is the largest carrot grower in that county. They grow about 2,500 acres of carrot.
"I calculated it one time," said Hamlin. "If you stuck them end to end, they'd circle the globe twice so it's a lot of carrots."
The harsh winter was a trying time for carrots and with two weeks left in the harvest season Hamlin says the carrots look great and taste sweet.
"We grow carrots under pivots and though we're concerned about water issues in the state because we have them under the pivots we are not suffering as much as some of the farmers on dry land with other crops," said Hamlin.
"For cotton and peanuts, you do have to have a high level of moisture," said Justin Shealey, the Echols County extension agent. "At this point in time, it's questionable whether we do have that moisture. There's is a high potential for stand failure and crop loss if we don't get a timely rain."
Cotton here in Echols County has already been planted but the herbicides on this land can't activate without the rain.
Just to give you an idea of how dry the soil. The ideal soil moisture would cause this dirt to clump up but instead it just blows away.
"There's no substitute for a good soaking rain," said Hamlin.
While many growers have irrigation systems in place, it costs money. Growers say it doesn't compare to good ole rain.
Echols County will celebrate its first carrot festival Saturday in Statenville around the courthouse from 10 to 4.
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