April 10, 2019
Nearly three weeks after an unexpected hailstorm pummeled watermelon fields in North Central Florida, farmers are getting a clearer picture of the extent of the damage to their crops.
BJ Wilkerson, a watermelon farmer in Bell, experienced damage from the late-March hail storm that swept the area.
“It was pretty significant in some places. We had about 200 acres that were damaged and another 30 that were completely killed,” said Wilkerson
Many of the young plants’ stems were damaged in many cases and have had to fight their way back.
Farmers in the region are facing uncertainty because of the short window that Florida watermelons have to sell in the market. A later harvest forces Florida growers to compete with Georgia’s production.
“We look to begin harvesting around May 5. With the melons in the field that are making a comeback, we are going to be about two weeks late,” said Wilkerson.