Wet Weather Affects Local Produce, Prices

Continued wet conditions are having an impact on produce. Since January, east Mississippi has received about ten inches more rain than usual. According to experts, the extensive wet weather could affect customers' wallets.

"I've been doing this a few years and this is one of the oddest years that I can recall," says Dr. Wayne Porter, area horticulturist with the MSU Extension Service, serving 21 counties.

Porter says extensive rain since last fall in Mississippi caused the planting of some crops to be delayed this year. In turn, this has led to mixed results.

Monday morning we asked some of the farmers at the Farmers Market in Meridian their perspective on the issue.

"Great, great, it has been a good year," says Quitman farmer, Jackie Belcher. "I've got irrigation, but we didn't have to use it because we've got good weather; it didn't blister them (tomatoes). It let them stay on the vine longer."

"It was hard this spring because we couldn't get to plant and when we did plant, we couldn't get the grass out of it. But it's doing better now," says Presley Minor, a farmer in Whynot.

Because the sky has been overcast for much of this year, farmers say that some of their produce, such as tomatoes, have not fully ripened. Also they say bees, which are guided by the sun, are not circulating as they should.

"Some days a plant might set fruit that day, and the next day it doesn't," says Dr. Porter. "There are just subtle differences that have occurred due to the weather pattern."

Porter says these subtle differences, combined with the planting delays due to extensive rain, have resulted in fewer fruits and vegetables being available. Ultimately, he projects this will cause an increase in the price for produce.

"It's not going to be, I don't think, a terribly big increase because of the fact that most of the crops were just delayed and not destroyed," Porter said.

Porter says the price for produce could significantly increase if there's a drought or major storm later this summer.

Meanwhile, heavy rainfall this year in Alabama has delayed wheat harvesting and kept some farmers from planting soybeans. Peanut and cotton crops in Alabama have also been negatively impacted by extensive wet weather conditions.