Wet weather plagues early Georgia watermelon season

07/12/2013 12:19:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

Georgia watermelonsCourtesy University of GeorgiaA wet start to 2013 has Georgia watermelon growers chanting, "rain, rain go away, come again some other day."

In fact, during the first six months of this year, the state received 35 inches—or more than it did all of 2012.

As a result, the wet, cool spring delayed watermelon planting, and additional weather problems interrupted pollination.

That could lead to fewer melons on the market, according to a news release.

Rainfall late in the fruiting stage also can cause the melons to take in water and swell faster than they can produce sugar.

This dicreases flavor intensity, a problem that the Georgia melon crop could face this year, according to the release.

“If you get a lot of rain, the melons will fill up with water and that makes it hard to sell them because the grade goes down,” Justin Lanier, the University of Georgia Extension coordinator in Crisp County, said in the release.

Later planting also may mean a later harvest, which could cause the biggest headache for growers as disease pressures increase as the season progresses.

Conditions, however, appear to be improving after the first harvest.

How the season ends will depend on the weather between now and when the last melon is picked.

“Everything else, it’s kind of one of those day-by-day, week-by-week things. It can turn bad in a week; it depends on if we get a lot of disease,” Lanier said in the release. “The weather plays a big role.”

In 2011, the last year for which figures are available, Georgia-grown watermelons had a farm-gate value of $98.7 million, according to the release.

Read more about how the wet weather dampened a recent Clemson University watermelon field day.

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