Henry County farmers reflect on drought and produce prices

Bruce Curry is a man on a mission these days. He’s harvesting sweet corn on a rare cloudy Friday in Henry County.

“There’s going to be shortages,” he said.

And when it comes to produce prices during a drought, the longtime grower at Country Corner Farm Market in Alpha sounds realistic.

“I’m sure there will be some price increases,” he said.

Farmers might need to charge more money to make up for smaller harvests.

“You might not have as big of an ear of sweet corn, or you might not have two or three varieties to choose from,” he said. “Or there may not be any sweet corn available.”

Curry will be selling a farmer’s dozen of sweet corn for $5 this Saturday at the Freight House Farmers Market in Davenport and at his stand along Rt. 150 in Alpha.

While supermarkets may ultimately charge more for produce, he can’t afford to raise his prices.

“The general public will only pay so much,” he said.

It’s a lesson that Brian Allen and Sarah Hepner are learning. They grow a variety of vegetables with organic methods. Extreme weather takes a toll with heat and bugs.

“If the cutbacks are dramatic, I would assume it would be simple supply and demand,” Allen said.

Some of their crops aren’t even making it to market.

“A lot of my lettuce went to flower before I wanted it to, which bitters the greens and then people don’t want to buy it,” Allen said.

Bruce Curry says that drip irrigation helps to deal with the drought. But the financial pressure is increasing.

“The fact that we are in a drought is going to affect the quantities more than it is the local prices,” he said.

The bottom line from Bruce: it’s all about the weather.

“If we don’t get rain soon, our crops will start hurting,” he concluded.

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