Farmers Welcome The Recent Rain Relief

Right now the Biloxi Farmers Market has all sorts of Florida produce on sale. If local farmland isn't too wet, Mississippi fruits and vegetables go into the ground this weekend.

It will be a busy time for coast farmer Bill David. He said recent rains are "good right now because most people just now started planting. And we've got to have water for it to come up."

But the storms can't make up for the bone dry 2000 that made it so hard to harvest fresh, ripe South Mississippi vegetables.

"Not at all," produce salesman Phillip Hill said. "I mean it's so dry, what I'm saying, what rain we got, most of it just went right in the ground. Didn't get it where you needed it most of the time. It ain't really done no good."

Not only did South Mississippi farmers and wholesalers get hit hard by last year's drought, their crops suffered this winter, when freezing temperatures damaged produce.

"I'm sure that they have lost everything when you have three to four days of 20 degree weather, 20 plus degree weather, those plants can't survive," Produce dealer Steve Castleman said.

Local farmers are hoping their next batch of crops can fill produce trucks. But as they're well aware, weather will dictate if that's possible.

"Some years, it's just drier than it is other times," Bill David said, "and we plant and raise what we can. And if we can't, we just mark it off and wait until next time."

For coast farmers, next time is now.

by Brad Kessie