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Slocomb Tomato Festival Overshadow by Farmers Concern

By: Rayne McKenzie
By: Rayne McKenzie

Among all the celebration in this year's Slocomb Tomato Festival, there is an underlying concern by farmers over the lack of rain.

While some of them have systems in place to keep their crops watered, others are at the hand of what Mother Nature doles out, which hasn't been much at all this year.

Tomato farmer Ronnie Aplin said, "We hadn't had irrigation there wouldn't be any maters to pick. Drought's been bad."

The lack of rain has taken its toll on crops in the area. Farmers are working extra hard to keep their crops watered to make sure they are ready to take to the market.

Those who have taken the time to irrigate and who are willing to shell out the average $100 a day to turn a good crop are feeling good about these years’ yields.

"We've had a really good crop considering the weather, but we do irrigate so they've turned out real good," said Barbara Aplin.

Farmers explain that tomatoes are made up of about 95 percent water, and those who know their business know what it takes to keep their crops in good condition. Tomato season lasts about six months and requires a lot of hard, physical labor. The farmers say they will continue to turn a crop as long as they are able because it is part of them.

"We got to keep trying. It's in our blood. We're not just gonnar role over," said Aplin.

Many of the farmers’ crops line Highway 52 as driver head into Slocomb. Crops the farmers are hoping sell well enough to allow them to return to their fields next year.

Agricultural experts say if prices of fertilizer and fuel continue to increase, many farmers will be forced out of business within the next few years.


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