South Georgia Watermelon Harvests Underway

Clint ThompsonGeorgia, Watermelon

Photo by Clint Thompson/Shows watermelons being harvested in a field in Tift County.

By Clint Thompson

Watermelon harvests are underway across South Georgia. One crop scout attributes an uptick in disease pressure in watermelons this year to the increased rainfall experienced throughout the region in the spring.

Photo by Clint Thompson/Shows watermelons being harvested in a field in Tift County.

Tim Flanders, who scouts watermelon fields in the Tifton, Georgia, area, also said producers experienced some diseases sooner in the production season than normal.

“We’ve got several issues around, and we’ve got issues that have shown up a lot earlier than normal. We’ve had anthracnose and downy mildew that have moved into Georgia earlier than normal. We generally don’t get too concerned about those particular diseases until later on, but they were here relatively early,” Flanders said. “I would say it’s an average to slightly below average crop. All of it would tie back to the rains.

“We’ve got some disease issues. I think all of that ties directly to, whatever it was, 15 to 20 inches of rain. It was really a blessing that, even though with the disease issues, we got it earlier and not now while we’re harvesting. That would have been a mess.”

How Long Will Harvests Continue?

South Georgia farmers just started harvesting at full speed this week. They will likely continue through July 4, if the market stays strong and the vines hold up through the intense heat currently being experienced.

“We’re probably running a little bit later than normal. I’ve had a couple of growers in the past that have actually hit the Memorial Day market on a few melons, early melons. We didn’t have that this time, and really, I would say, maybe the end of last week, this week, we’re really just getting cranked up good,” Flanders said.