By Clint Thompson
Drew Echols’ north Georgia experiment with late-season watermelons produced sweet results. If not for excessive rains, it could have been a lot sweeter.
“We went pretty hard for a couple of weeks, and then probably with about a third of the crop left, we got about seven inches of rain in about a day and a half and about nine inches total that week. That’ll shut you out of the watermelon business,” said Echols, owner of Jaemor Farms in Alto and Commerce, Georgia. “We sold a lot. I was in the black. At least I wasn’t in the red. There was a lot of profit left in the field. At that stage, they’re not going to tolerate that much rain at one time.”
Echols produced about 20 acres of watermelons this August. The market was there, especially since the watermelons were locally grown.
“It took about a week for a couple of these brokers that we were dealing with, for them to actually hit the market down there in Atlanta and get people used to seeing a Georgia grown watermelon again after there had been a month hiatus. After four or five days, people started picking up, ‘These are locally grown.’ Then we ran about two weeks really, really hard,” Echols said. “I think there’s some room right there to keep doing it or maybe even possibly expand a little bit.”