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Dr Sarah Taber @SarahTaber_bww
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this week: 4 states, 1,400 miles, 2 packhouses, 5 farms, RIP 1 pair of pants
Watermelon farm visits are A Lot bc for watermelon farms to pencil out, they needs lots of cheap land so they're in the middle of hecking nowhere

so anyway that's where I've been

on the plus side watermelon farmers are pretty cool
watermelon highlights!

-There are 2 modes of how to grow watermelons in the eastern US:

-have a patch in FL, GA, the Carolinas, etc and migrate. (the "traveling circus" model) These farms have a harvest crew and packing line that they take with them up & down the South.
-or mode 2, be a general veggie farm that grows summer squash, cucumbers, cantaloupes, & other veggies that work on the same kind of packing line as watermelons
-The big sales day for watermelons is the 4th of July, so watermelon farms are all in a race to get them squeezed out by then

-(So they tend to schedule food safety audits a week or two after that, so southern food safety auditors disappear in mid July)
-forever impressed by how many 90s country stations are still out there

-referring to country as "farm emo" will result in wtf squints from the over-50s and lulz from the 16yo working the shipping desk
There were heavy rains across a lot of the South in late June/early July this year so a lot of the Southern watermelon crop turned out super-hydrated and kind of bland as a result.
So the major retailers shut down a lot of orders & didn't push WM promotions in the eastern US for the 4th like they usually do. This year was kinda crappy for southern watermelons. But most of these farms are p diversified, watermelon is just one cash crop out of several.
-Watermelons get handpicked, then you need a big wagon to carry them off

A popular solution: rip the seats out of an old school bus & turn it into a watermelon truck
They used to cover the whole back bed in shag carpet to cushion the melons

but as we all learned, shag carpet traps dirt like crazy so now they just do rubber mats
So if you're somewhere in the deep south in early July about 2-4 hours away from an airport and see hollowed-out school buses full of watermelons, you are not hallucinating, what you just saw is real.

and that's the news from watermelon season
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