Watermelon Crop Down by 70% in Washington County

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Chipley- To have called this a 'strange growing season' for panhandle farmers would be an understatement.

"You'll have wet years, you'll have dry years. This year, in one growing season we've had both, and that's what makes it even more unusual. It's unusually wet by itself. But then, if you look at how dry it was at planting time, it just makes it an even stranger situation" Washington County Agriculture agent Mark Mauldin said.

Washington County has been known for its watermelon crops, but not this year. This year's yields were drastically lower than last years'.

"Well, if you talk about watermelon just specifically, you could probably say about 70% less. If you want to talk about cantaloupe, its probably 95% less" Orwat said. He told us rain was the overriding factor accounting for the failure.

"They started in early July with all the heavy rains we've been having and that caused the vines to rot in low lying spaces. So, the majority in this county- Washington County, and Holmes County -a lot of the watermelon and cantaloupe crop was just decimated and ruined because of the vine rotting and the standing water."

Some grower got lucky and got a first cut,- some even a second. But many didn't even get the first one.

"You know, watermelons and cantaloupes you can get a lot out of a small acreage, so what's happened is those small acreage crops are high dollar value per acreage so it does hurt the crop" Orwat said.

And while many farmers lost their crop, Orwat said they didn't lost their hope.

"They could, you know, plant some vegetables in for a fall crop, late august early September."

And, some of those farmers may qualify for disaster relief funds from FEMA, due to the recent flooding.

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