July 8, 2007
Cordele -- Watermelons at Cordele's Farmers Market are ripe and ready for picking.
"One dollar your whole load... I will let you have it for 95 cents. I can't handle that. Its to cheap," said farm worker James Hook. Farmers find themselves bargaining more and more than they had to compared to last year.
"Last year it was a little bit better," said BKA Super, Curtis Sampson. "Sales are not very good up here. I came out of South Florida and the sales there were great," said Hook.
But what makes this year so different? "It's too many watermelons. I really think that's what the problem is. There are just too many watermelons," said Hook. "Just like anything else. When the word gets out that there is a big profit being made everyone wants to get into the watermelon business," said Barry county farmer, Tim Walker.
Cordele's prized watermelons can be found by the truckload here. With this years Easter freeze and with the never-ending drought, who would have guessed this year's harvest would be so abundant.
"It was a fair harvest considering the dry weather," said Walker. "Watermelon is something you can't just expect. You take what comes because you can have a beautiful year and one little frost comes in April. And it can mess up the whole thing," said Hook.
But its the weather problems that has the farmers in most need of business. "The drought had a lot to do with it. We have a lot more invested in it than we usually do. We really need a lot more, but we are not getting a lot more," said part-time farmer from Turner county, Alice Nelson.
Instead farmers are finding more competition and less buyers. "They can get more and everyone wants them for cheap. Everybody wants them for a dollar this year," said Nelson.
One thing is for sure. "Cordele, Georgia is the watermelon capital of the world. It has the sweetest watermelon grown in the South and the cheapest this year," said Walker.
Those watermelons are selling for about four cents a pound which is less than half of what they sold for this time last year.