By Clint Thompson
Watermelon producers in South Georgia who were impacted by excessive rainfall in February and early March could see their planting window delayed, according to University of Georgia Cooperative Extension vegetable specialist Andre da Silva.
Some farmers could be as much as three weeks behind in preparing to plant this year’s crop, especially due to heavy rains on March 4 and 5 where some counties received between 4 and 6 inches of rainfall.
“The weather definitely put us three weeks behind. The problem was not only the rain we got last week; the problem was before that we had a week of rain. That’s two weeks of rain, plus an additional week to wait for the soil to dry out and then be able to lay plastic. That put us three weeks behind,” da Silva said. “Plus, during the plastic laying, growers need to fumigate. If they use a product like Pic Clor 60, they’re going to need to wait like 30 days to come with the plants to the field. That’s why it’s going to delay planting.”
He added that if growers did not have their plastic in place before the two-day deluge of rain in early March, farmers may not be ready to plant their crop when planned. If the planting date is delayed significantly enough, some of Georgia’s crop may not be ready for harvest until July 4 or shortly thereafter, which would be worse case scenario.
“At that point, the market will start to get saturated, then there will probably be a lot of watermelons available to buy and the price is probably going to go low,” he said. “I hope that this doesn’t happen. There is a possibility for this happen, but I don’t want it to happen.”
He said that watermelon planting season in Georgia starts as early as March 1, but the bulk of farmers start March 15 and continue to the end of April. The watermelon market in Georgia begins in early June and usually concludes a week after July 4.