By Clint Thompson
Extremely high input costs makes watermelon production unsustainable for Southeast producers.
Carr Hussey, a watermelon farmer in Florida, Georgia and Alabama and chairman of the board of the Florida Watermelon Association (FWA), said there be a must price adjustment for farmers to remain afloat.
“Pricing, I think it’s going to change this season, I really do. Farmers can’t keep it up. I don’t know yet, but I think there will be a little less acreage this year. We’ve got more disease pressure than we’ve ever had along with high price in production,” Hussey said. “It makes it almost impossible. I talked to several guys in the industry that realize there has to be a price adjustment. How much? I have no idea.”
How can growers remain sustainable when some input costs are going to be up as much as 40% to 50%? Overall costs are expected to increase between 10% to 15%, says Mark Bryan, president of the FWA.
“You can’t stay sustainable, and everything else has gone up. The problem with grocery items in general has gone up but mostly at the retail level; not passed on down to the producers. That’s got to start trickling back to the producers,” Hussey said.
“The supply chain thing is a real issue. Freight last year was just out of sight. It actually kept a lot of us from making any amount of money last year simply because we were advanced price out and by the time we put it on wheels freight had gone up to where profit was diminished. We didn’t make a whole lot of money.”