News from the Tennessee Valley State, Local and National news
MONDAY, JULY 9, 2007

Marilyn Champion, left, waits on Charlene and Charlie Dunlap at the Decatur Morgan County Farmers Market last week.
Daily photo by John Godbey
Marilyn Champion, left, waits on Charlene and Charlie Dunlap at the Decatur Morgan County Farmers Market last week.

More crops at Farmers Market
Growers beat state’s drought with irrigation

By Sheryl Marsh · 340-2437

Corn, squash and tomatoes at your pleasure at the Morgan County-Decatur Farmers Market.

Farmers are seeing a turnaround in crops, and it’s evident by selections of vegetables at the market.

A lingering drought threatened and killed some crops, but many farmers overcame the dry heat with irrigation.

“We have a well and irrigation,” said Tim Sharp of Hartselle. “If we didn’t have irrigation, we wouldn’t have anything.”

Sharp, who said he had sold most of the vegetables he brought to the market that day, still had tomatoes, squash and peas.

Farmers who did not have irrigation kept hoses spraying the fields.

‘We did all right’

“We did all right,” said Bill Terry of Blount County. “I had to water a lot. As long as they don’t turn my water off I’ll be fine.”

Terry had an abundance of corn, squash, green beans and cucumbers.

Other farmers lost crops, but still had some to bring to the market.

“The heat hurt me bad,” said Louis Houston of Athens. “We were slow getting off to a start. It was just too dry, but we’ll come out on top.”

Houston had tomatoes and squash, but said he had other veggies earlier in the day.

Maxie Johnson of Lawrence County said the heat kept his corn in the ground, but other crops came up.

“We have an excellent crop of cabbage, butter beans, tomatoes and okra,” Johnson said. “We did real good.”

Expensive proposition

Irrigation gives promise for good harvest, but could be expensive.

“We had a big water bill, but we didn’t lose anything,” said Linda Posey of Blount County, who had an array of beans, tomatoes, squash and peppers.

Rain is still the key ingredient and the farmers say they want it.

For the next week or so, rain is in the forecast, according to Steve Shumway, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Huntsville.

Clouds will hover most of this week with a chance of scattered showers in the afternoon, Shumway said.

Recent rainfall did not wash out the drought.

“It’s still hanging tough,” said Shumway. “I don’t think we’ve made a crinkle in it.”

Temperatures should remain in the low 90s and lows will be in the 70s.

The area is about 20 inches short in rain for the year so far, Shumway said.

“Right now we should’ve seen about 31 inches, but we’ve
only had 12 inches so far,” he said.

The area received a soaking Friday and steady dripping remained for several hours Saturday.

Farmers like Houston are still hopeful.

“We just have to keep hoping and praying for the rain to come down,” Houston said. “I believe it will and we’ll still have our crops.”

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