Wiregrass farmers weathering tough times

Posted by: Melissa Johnson - bio | email

ENTERPRISE, AL (WSFA) - Extensive rainfall this year in addition to this summer's blazing temps have been deadly for local produce, especially for strawberries and peaches.

And one farmer in Enterprise is struggling to stay above water.

Farming is a way of life for Country Best Farm owner Bobby Helms.  In fact, it's in his blood.

After he retired from a career in Birmingham, he made his way back to his hometown in Enterprise, to a farm that had been in his family for more than 100 years.

He says, his great grandfather actually built the house he lives in now.

But this year, the hometown farmer has fallen on tough times.

"This has been the worst year for me in seven years," says Bobby Helms.

And, you can blame it on the weather.  He says his crops have all suffered extensively from the weather conditions this year.

Enterprise Extension officials refer to it as the "eternal blessing or curse."

That's the delicate balance between drought and too much rain.

For Bobby Helms it's a little of both.  He says, "We probably have had over six inches of rain, but in the early part of the year when my particular fruits and vegetables needed water , we had about three weeks of extremely dry, extremely high temperatures."

He says, it damaged his peach and strawberry crops the most.  And even though he's already starting to prepare the fields for next season's crops, he can't help but hope for better luck in the coming year.

But, even during this hardship, he says his customer base has been very loyal.  He has retained many of his same customers for a number of years.

Nelms hopes both his business and crops continue to grow.

Right now, legislation is in the works to provide federal funding for irrigation systems to help farmers with these problems.