A combination of heavy rain and a late freeze is putting South Alabama's watermelon crop in jeopardy just as demand ramps up in the summer months.

Alabama Agriculture Commissioner Rick Pate says an excess of rain can ruin watermelon in a variety of ways.

"With heavy rain, these watermelons can absorb too much water, and they won't taste good," Pate warned. "Sometimes they'll bust."

The Ag Commissioner pointed out that another challenge facing watermelon farmers was finding workers willing to pick the fruit, a laborious task made worse by the hot Alabama sun.

"Picking watermelons is hard," he said.

According to Pate, labor issues are not limited to just watermelon but exist "across the board" in ag.

"There is no chance Americans gravitate back to ag labor," he declared.

The solution, he says, is foreign workers.

He advised, "Either foreign workers will pick your crop in another country, or they will pick your crop in this one."

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email gnicktreglia@gmail.com.

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