Grainger Co. farmers say rain shortage could hurt tomato crops

Grainger Co. farmers say rain shortage could hurt tomato crops

6 News Reporter

RUTLEDGE (WATE) - Farmers in Grainger County are hoping for some rain.

They are going through a bit of a dry spell, and that means you could soon be paying more for those famous Grainger County tomatoes.

This has been a tough year for those crops starting with an unusually cold winter.

"We had to heat those greenhouses in order for those tomatoes to survive through the winter, so it cost us a lot more money to produce these tomatoes this time. A lot of people don't understand why our tomatoes are so high this time of year," said Jack Ritter at Ritter Farms.

Now with prices already higher than usual, they are facing dry spells.

"We came out of a cold winter, colder than normal. Then we had a little bit of rain. Then we've had no rain," said Ritter.

In fact the area rainfall is about six inches below average for this time of year.

"Here at this particular farm we've had no rain for over 30 days," said Ritter.

At Ritter Farms they are able to water all of their crops, but they say if they go too much longer without significant rain they could run out of that water.

It their local water supply on the farm runs dry so do their crops.

"It's according to how extensive this heat wave and this dry spell is," said Ritter.

The Ritters say some of their crops like hay and field corn are at about half the amount as this time last year.

They say they are focusing a lot of their attention and resources on the tomatoes for now.
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