Georgia watermelon growers enjoy good season

07/17/2014 10:27:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

click image to zoomUniversity of Georgia watermelon trialsCourtesy University of GeorgiaStudent worker Beau Lamb tosses watermelons into a truck, while Robert Ames writes down its weight. By Clint Thompson July 10, 2014Good yields, low disease pressure and reasonable prices marketed this year's Georgia watermelon season.

It's also a far cry from last summer, when steady rains soaked the crop and brought unwanted pests and diseases, according to a news release.

Credit dry weather for low incidence of diseases, which involves only isolated outbreaks of bacterial fruit blotch, according to a news release.

"I would say for vegetable farmers across the board, most growers would prefer weather to be hot and dry rather than cool and wet because they know they can irrigate when they need it," University of Georgia vegetable horticulturist Tim Coolong said in the release. "Therefore, you're not going to have to deal with all the disease issues."

Growers with overhead irrigation typically consider yields of 40,000 to 50,000 pounds per acre to be good. This year, Coolong says he has heard reports of 60,000 pounds per acre.

Although crop maturity was delayed about a week because of a cold, wet spring, growers enjoyed a strong start to the selling season.

Prices dropped after July 4, which is common because of lower demand. South Carolina also entered the market, providing more supply to the slackening demand.

Most Georgia growers will be winding down the season in the coming few weeks.

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