Summer rain causes problems for local farmers, crops

Summer rain causes problems for local farmers, crops

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by KATIE KILLEN / NBC Charlotte Staff

WCNC.com

Posted on August 7, 2013 at 6:53 AM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 7 at 7:59 AM

YORK, S.C. -- Some experts are estimating the recent rain has caused billions in crop damage across the southeast. 

Area farmers say the unseasonable weather is forcing them to put higher prices on their fruits and vegetables.  Arthur Black at Black's Peaches in York farms and has a roadside market.  The recent weather is making it tough. 

"This has been the wettest year I've ever seen," he said.  This summer, the peach supply is low.   "When they were blooming it was cool and damp and rainy and wet and they didn't pollinate, so we're real short," he said. 

The farm isn't offering customers the "pick your own" option this year and that's hurting Black's bottom line.  According to Black, many come to pick the peaches and then buy other veggie and fruits like tomatoes and watermelon. 

"That's our mainstay.  Peaches drive whatever we do," he said.  The rain is also affecting future crops. "I'm going to lose two acres of peaches this year to something called bacteria canker it sounds real bad, but what it is is wet feet.  [There are] low places in the orchards just where trees are completely dying out." 

Black said he's been forced to fluctuate prices all summer and some items are selling for prices he's never seen.

"Right now squash is selling for 30 dollars for a half bushel basket.  There are no squash on the east coast," Black said.

Just down the road at Bush-n-Vine, special tunnels protect plant from rain, but it's not cheap. 

"You're talking about $30,000 dollars an acre," said Sam Hall, co-owner. 

He also said October's staple could be in trouble.  "If you don't get sunny warm weather, they'll shuck their blooms or their blooms will just fall off before they even grow a pumpkin," said Hall. 

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