High Heat Impacts Georgia Watermelons
Georgia is noted as being one of the biggest watermelon producers in the country, but acreage for the crop may be down this year. According to an article on www.wsbtv.com, the state’s watermelon industry was worth $143 million in 2013. Charles Hall, executive director of the Georgia Watermelon Association, said in the article that he is expecting that number to be much lower this year, but it is too early to tell what that number will be.
The article also states that Vidalia onions in the state will not fare as well as last year, either, thanks to all the spring rains. Aries Haygood with M & T Farms says, however, that it was the excessive heat in June that has hurt his watermelon crop.
“There was nothing we could do… When [heat] gets that excessive there’s not much you can do,” Haygood told WSBTV. Haygood has been in the farming business for eight years and has seen his share of weather ups and downs.
In mid-June, though, temperatures in Middle Georgia topped out above 95 degrees for nine days straight with even higher heat indices.
“The heat was reaching a 105 to 110-degree heat index…The fruit was beginning to burn just like we would if we were out in the sun,” Haygood said.
In spite of using produce sunscreen, the constant heat caused sudden ripening and crews were not prepared to harvest. As a result, Haygood predicts his watermelon crop to be down by about one-third.
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