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Farmers marketfinds much success

&uot;We sold over $500.00 worth of produce this morning&uot; stated one vendor at the Butler County Farmers' Market.

The Farmers' Market is held on Saturdays and Tuesdays at the Kiwanis Fairgrounds in Greenville, and Thursdays at the Hank Williams Pavilion in Georgiana. The market opens around 7:00 a.m. or as soon as vendors and customers arrive.

Most vendors who participate in the Farmers' Market are qualified to accept FMNP (Farmers' Market Nutrition Program) coupons. These coupons are made available to low income senior citizens through the Senior Nutrition Program in Greenville and Georgiana.

These coupons can be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables that are locally grown. Coupons can not be used to purchase retail produce. Vendors can not accept coupons for produce that they did not grow! The FMNP is a federal program administered by the Alabama Farmers Market Authority.

A major problem with vegetable production in south Alabama is having a market readily available. Most consumers would rather purchase locally grown fresh produce. The FMNP has helped get the Butler County Farmers' Market started. Hopefully this market will continue long after the FMNP is discontinued. The market is now in its second year. Cash sales over coupon sales have started to pick up considerably compared to last year.

Crop Weather Report for Butler County Generally less than three days each week have been suitable for field work due to most areas being too wet to get equipment in and out. Top soil moisture in most row crop fields has approached saturated levels. This can cause serious problems in most crops because there is not enough oxygen in the soil for the plant roots.

Corn overall is in good to excellent condition. Some problems observed in corn have been where excessive rains have leached nitrogen out of the root zone and Gray Leaf Spots. As soon as the weather dries down, most corn should be in the dented stage.

Thus far, this year appears to be a hard one on cotton. Some farmers were prevented from planting all the cotton acres planned. Cotton in low areas has been stunted by saturated soil conditions.

Peanuts, for the most part, look good. We expect to start having some problems with disease control (stem rot, white mold, leaf spot) due to fields being too wet to get equipment in to apply timely fungicide treatments.

Tobacco cropping has been going on for the last 3 to 4 weeks. At this time, it is hard to speculate how this crop will turn out. There has been a higher incidence of black shank and TSWV (tomato spotted wilt virus) this year.

Grazing for beef cattle has been overall excellent. The biggest problem cattlemen are facing is harvesting hay for the winter. Before hay can be rolled or baled, the moisture must be down 15 to 17 percent.

Depending on humidity, hay can take from 3 to 4 days to cure after being cut. It is very difficult to get hay cured for baling when it rains every day.

Vegetable crops in the county have ranged from very good to a complete disaster. Too much water and not enough sunshine has caused problems in cantaloupe, watermelon, okra, peas, butterbeans, and tomatoes to name a few. Some growers have had complete failures and some have had as much production as they could handle.

Hopefully, it will dry off enough this fall so that the above crops can be harvested. Fall of 2002 was extremely wet to the point that most farmers lost half their crop due to inability to get in and out of the fields.