By Clint Thompson
The current coronavirus pandemic has impacted fruit and vegetable farmers across the Southeast. South Carolina producers may be better equipped to deal with the current crisis based off who their normal clientele is.
“I think everyone here is looking at Florida and is not liking what we see down there but hoping that our situation is a little bit different,” said Eva Moore, communications director at the South Carolina Department of Agriculture. “A lot of our market for our produce is in-state or neighboring states. Whereas I think Florida took a big hit with the tourism industry going away and that sort of thing. We’re in constant communication with our growers, just keeping an eye on things.”
South Carolina thrives heavily on agriculture as a source of revenue for the state. Moore said there are 4.7 million acres farmed and 25,000 farms. Peaches are the state’s No. 1 fruit. Moore said there were approximately 17,500 acres of peaches in 2017, amounting to $18 million in production.
Andy Rollins, Clemson Extension agent says the state’s peach crop appears ripe for a productive season this year, pending how the market spirals over the next few months.
South Carolina is the country’s No. 2 producer of peaches behind California, according to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center.
Also, in 2017, there were about 2,800 acres of tomatoes, earning $34 million in production. Watermelon acreage totaled 4,900 with a value of $26 million.