By Clint Thompson
Georgia’s watermelon harvests are less than a month away. The crop’s development increased last week thanks to warm temperatures. It was much different than the weather conditions growers experienced previously, according to Greg Leger, owner of Leger & Son, Inc, in Cordele, Georgia.
“We won’t have anything until the (June) 5th or 10th, something like that. There might be some earlier stuff. But the volume probably won’t come until the 15th,” Leger said. “It’s been a bit cold which I think has been holding them back. But now it’s really starting to make it up. Just (last) week, it got into the 90s. It had been cold and windy, and that’s when some of the guys were saying they weren’t going to have any watermelons until the 15th or 20th. I said it’s going to get just as hot as it is cool.”
It certainly did last week. Temperatures soared to the high 80s and low 90s in parts of South Georgia where there is substantial watermelon production.
The region, though, is considerably dry. Abnormally dry conditions have expanded across Southwest Georgia, according to the most recent release of the U.S. Drought Monitor. The dry area starts as far south as Mitchell and Colquitt counties, expands eastward to Telfair and Jeff Davis counties, northward to Taylor and Crawford counties and then westward to Quitman and Stewart counties along the Georgia-Alabama state line.
“We need some rain. We irrigate these things, but just a good rain would help perk the vines up. Rain really helps make tonnage,” Leger said. “We don’t need a tropical system to come in here because that creates disease. That’s why people say they prefer to put their own water, but it’s just bad dry for all commodities right now.”