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Just four vendors were active at the Decatur/Morgan County Farmers Market at 2 p.m. Monday.
Daily photo by Gary Lloyd
Just four vendors were active at the Decatur/Morgan County Farmers Market at 2 p.m. Monday.

Tables bare at farmers market

By Sheryl Marsh 340-2437

The drought that's delivering scorching temperatures is a two-edged sword, killing vegetable crops and hiking prices.

Vendor tables at the Morgan County-Decatur Farmers Market that used to overflow with vegetables and fruits are mostly bare.

"We probably lost $2,000 on just turnip greens," said Marilyn Champion of Champion Farms at Falkville.

That's not counting the loss of other crops on the 20-acre farm, Champion said.

She said an irrigation system made harvest there look promising for a while, until water pressure began falling.

"We had a well put in, and I'm worried that the water pressure is not producing like it was in the beginning," Champion explained. "We were able to irrigate most of our stuff, and now I'm having to do one place at a time."

Geneva Mendez of Falkville, who had a skimpy table of cabbage, potatoes, green onions and cucumbers, said the loss this year started with seed.

"Seeds went up this year," Mendez said. "There's not a person up here that's had a good crop this year that I know of."

The drought is also running up utilities.

"My water bill has doubled," said Mendez. "We water from three to four hours every day. It helps, but it's not like rain. I've had to buy five water hoses to get to the crops, and we've got other fields we can't reach with water hoses."

Tomatoes that should have been plentiful by now are barely making it, she said.

"They are really small," Mendez said.

She has beans, peas and watermelons planted that are in jeopardy because of the dry heat.

"Zipper peas and field peas are my main crops, and we aren't going to have half of what we usually bring in," Mendez said.

Champion said her tomatoes are in good condition because of the irrigation system.

The drought has brought higher prices to the market.

Most veggies have doubled in price.

"A small cup of cucumbers that cost $1 last year are $2 this year," said Mendez.

Champion said when and if the corn crop matures at her farm, the price will be higher.

"It was $3 (a dozen) last year. We'll have to get at least $4 or $5," said Champion. "Even with that, we'll still be losing money."

The farmers say their only hope is rain.

"The lack of rain is worrying me," said Champion. "I just hope the well doesn't dry up."

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