Lowcountry tomato farmers weather the storm and market prices - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Lowcountry tomato farmers face tough season

Gray Sanders Gray Sanders

It's been a difficult season for tomato farmers in the Lowcountry. Not only are they weathering the recent rains but prices are also down. 

The harvest season is coming to a close at Seaside Farms and workers have finished picking the tomatoes off the vine within roughly 800 acres.

"We pick green," says owner and farmer Gray Sanders. 

Family owned and operated, Seaside Farms is in its fifth generation of business. Sanders says it's been a grind.

"It's been rough this year. We had a cold March and we had a slow start."

Because of that, thousands of tomatoes will be wasted. 

"We have all those red tomatoes that we didn't get to."

And he says tomato prices have also dropped by almost half.

The majority of their tomatoes will make it to the packaging house. Rows of assembly line workers will help put the finishing touches on their product. Seaside Farms estimates they'll ship approximately 900,000 of the 25 pound boxes. 

Just down the street, farmer Davis Dempsey operates his non-commercial U-Pick business.

"We let the customers pick them or we pick them for them," he says. 

Dempsey sells many kinds of tomatoes.

"Regular tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, grape and cherry."

And all kinds of fruits and vegetables. But it hasn't been easy for him either.

"It's been a tough season all around," he says. 

Dempsey has been farming almost 40 years. Both he and Seaside Farms hope for a better season next year. 

After the farmers finish harvesting their tomatoes, they will then prepare for watermelon season.  Seaside Farms will ship their tomatoes all through the eastern United States and Canada.

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