Watermelon Crop

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The weather may have play a key role in this year's watermelon crop. You've probably noticed by now that prices just aren't what they used to be.

As Chipley prepares for its annual watermelon festival, some local farmers are happy just to see a crop this year.

Kenneth Bruner, a watermelon grower, says, "We put as much time in as we always put. It just the weather. It was a lot of rain early and too cool at night and they just didn't set right."

Farmers say this spring's battle with mother nature cost them half of their normal crop.

Freda Toole, a watermelon grower, adds, "We grow our watermelons on plastic and it washed the plastic up. We had put dirt on it to hold down and here comes another rain washed it up."

But watermelon growers in northwest Florida had it better than farmers in south Florida, where disease killed off most of their crop, and farmers who did manage to raise some watermelons are getting top prices, triple what they were last year.

Andy Andreasen, Washington County Ag. Extension Agent, says, "That will help them, especially because last year the melons were in abundance. They were cheap a lot of them lost money and this year will be a chance for them to make some of that back.”

Of the rains, cool weather and high prices, none of that will stop the watermelon festival in Washington County this weekend.

A few things you can enjoy at this year’s watermelon festival is a 5000-meter run that starts at 7:30 Saturday morning and free watermelon until it all runs out.