Local News

Withered Crops Increase Farmer's Market Prices

Posted July 24, 1998

— The long, hot summer has been devastating for many local farmers. They have watched their crops, and their profits dry up on the vine.

Many farmers were only able to harvest a fraction of their vegetable crops this year. They have to make up the loss somewhere, so they are charging customers more for the crops they were able to save.

Ron Lee was only able to harvest 20% of the vegetable crops he grew on his Johnston County farm this year. 80% of his crops and potential profits withered away on the vine during the hot, dry weather. Now he is forced to raise prices on the crops he did pick.

"When the prices are real high because of stuff being dry, that pulls you up and helps get your bills paid, but that's about it," Lee said.

"We should be in our peak season on a lot of items but right now we're running short and prices are going up just a little bit," says Burnace Ausbon, who works at the Farmer's Market.

The shortage means buyers will pay more for vegetables this summer, and find a smaller selection. On an average day, there would be 10 or 15 vendors selling corn at the Farmer's market. Saturday, there was just one, and prices have gone up from 19 cents an ear to 33 cents.

"I think in previous years it's been around two, two-fifty per dozen, and now it's three, three-fifty," produce shopper George Douglas said.

Even grocery stores, who buy in large quantities from growers all over the country, are experiencing shortages and raising prices.

"With everything we've heard, with all the weather problems that have been around, it'd be kind of optimistic not to expect some kind of negative downturn," produce shopper Matt Ewadinger said.

Farmers say their customers have been understanding about the price increases and the shortage of some crops. Right now many farmers are concentrating on their tobacco crops, hoping to offset their vegetable losses with a good tobacco season.

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