Poor Weather Hurts Watermelon Farmers

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LEXINGTON, Tenn. – Frosty temperatures, flooding waters, and unexpected dry spells have hurt some West Tennessee watermelon farmers. “In about the middle of April, it frosted,” said farmer Bruce Franklin. “Then they kind of got over the frost bit, and it started raining and flooded the fields. (The) fields have flooded three times.” The Franklins grow 10 acres and seeded 6,000 plants. They said issues like poor weather knocked out about 40 of their watermelons. According to the National Weather Service, precipitation levels are up more than 20 inches compared to this time last year. “You see that rain water on top of them (and) it doesn’t look good,” said Bruce Franklin. “You don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t know if they’re going to live or not.” “(We) count on this to produce in some of the hay, watermelons, cows, and everything we do,” said farmer Gary Franklin. “Everything sort of ties in to each other.” Despite all the problems, the Franklins have been able to push through, grow their watermelons, and even make this a profitable season. “We got our money back, but we thought at one time it wasn’t going to (be profitable),” said Bruce Franklin. For the Franklins, growing watermelons is not just about the bottom line. The family grows some melons that tip the scales at more than 100 pounds. “It’s sort of like bragging rights for people who raise watermelons,” said Gary Franklin. “One year we had one weight 140 pounds. And we put them in the fair about every year and usually win at Jackson and Lexington,” said Bruce Franklin.

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