The 52nd-Annual Panhandle Watermelon Festival takes place Friday night and Saturday in Chipley this week. For the first time in more than a decade there is a bumper crop in Florida.
Thousands of jubilees, sangrias’ and crimson sweets' are being packed and shipped from Bonifay to markets in Chicago, Atlanta and Houston, Texas. Panhandle watermelons are in high demand nationwide.
Afternoon and evening rains over several weeks has led to a stellar harvest.
A far cry from the drought conditions over recent years, Washington County Extension Agent Andy Andreasen says the cost of fuel and fertilizers has doubled and even tripled in some cases.
It is becoming more difficult for the grower to show a profit.
“Production costs are higher than in [past] history; hopefully, products we sell will bring a fair price, and hopefully that will give growers a little something and a chance to get out for doing so," said Andreasen.
This Saturday, they’ll be plenty of free melon slices and a host of events like the seed spitting competition taking place at the Washington County Agriculture Center in Chipley.