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Georgia’s watermelon crop sweet, smaller

By Allie Byrd
University of Georgia

Independence Day celebrations include fireworks, cookouts and, often, big slices of ripe, juicy watermelon. Georgia’s melon crop is sweet but smaller this year. Prices will be slightly higher.

“We’re going to have plenty of watermelons available for the 4th of July this year,” said Terry Kelley, a horticulturist with the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. “But we do know the crops were a little bit short this year.”

Unlike most years when south Georgia’s weather goes straight from winter to summer, there was a spring this year and some cooler-than-usual temperatures at night. This harmed the early watermelon crop, he said.

“Wind did a lot of damage to the plants early on, which caused the early fruit on the plant to not be as prolific as they would be in a normal year,” Kelley said.

Even with the difference in yield and the recent hot and dry weather, consumers can expect the size and sweetness of watermelons to be normal. Although the crop is smaller, the price shouldn’t be drastically different from previous years.

“Price may be a touch higher, but should be in the same ballpark as watermelons have been for the past three to five years,” he said. “There won’t be a huge increase at the retail level, but growers may be getting a better price.”

Farmers need the higher prices, he said. Production costs for watermelon and other crops have jumped tremendously in recent years.

Georgia is entering the heavy harvest season and, Kelley said, the supply will likely increase as we approach and go beyond the holiday.

(Allie Byrd is a writer with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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