Fresh produce could cost more this year - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Fresh produce could cost more this year

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Ludlum says the ground temperature on his farm in Supply is too cold to start planting. Ludlum says the ground temperature on his farm in Supply is too cold to start planting.

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) – The wild winter weather has affected farmers and their crops, which means buying fresh produce could cost you more this year.

"It (the weather) affects my livelihood, the consumer, the prices, it's a chain reaction," said farmer Keith Ludlum.

Ludlum is a third generation tomato farmer in Brunswick County. By the first of March his field is usually full of crops waiting to blossom. However, this year is different.

Ludlum says the ground temperature on his farm in Supply is too cold to start planting. Plus, he has to pay more employees to help move the seeds to a warm location for protection.

Overall, his crew is delayed by more than two and a half weeks, and Ludlum says the weather is to blame.

He says Mother Nature is costing him precious time and could cost the customers more money this season.

"This year, we're germinating seeds that cost twice as much labor to get my seeds in the greenhouse, as cold as it's been," explained Ludlum. "It's going to cost the consumer more as well, and people just don't understand the legwork that goes into making that one little tomato."

In addition to tomatoes, Ludlum says the rest of his crops, including corn and soybeans, are behind schedule for harvesting as well.

According to the NC Department of Agriculture, North Carolina had nearly 3,000 fewer farms in 2012 than it did in 2007.

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