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Watermelons, blueberries, peaches still finding way to tables

Weather hard on Mississippi fruit

Adverse weather conditions have not helped fruit production in the state. But watermelons, blueberries and peaches are still finding their way to Mississippi tables.

A mild winter, a dry spell this summer and recent rains at harvest time did not stop growers from producing a decent yield. Watermelon prices are down, peaches are about average, but blueberries remain above average.

“There’s an old saying that dry weather will scare you, but wet weather will kill you,” said Kerry Johnson, George county agricultural extension agent. “It’s hard to load and ship watermelons in rainy weather. Surprisingly, the crop has been on schedule. The drought did help reduce disease problems.”

Blueberry growers are experiencing high demand and a strong harvest.

“Growers are receiving about $15 a flat, or $1.50 per pound, compared to about $12 for a flat in past years,” said Dr. John Braswell, Mississippi State University’s Extension Service horticulturist.

Braswell said the Miss-Lou blueberry cooperative of Mississippi and Louisiana producers have harvested about 1.5 million pounds of berries, with most coming from the Magnolia State.

Peaches are fewer in number but higher in quality, said Dr. Freddie Rasberry, extension horticulturist.

“Prices have been comparable to recent years at about $15 to $20 per bushel wholesale,” Rasberry said.

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