The most descriptive word for the vegetable season in Georgia for 2006 would be volatile. That's not surprising for an industry that is always directly impacted by supply and demand. Those two parameters are also often influenced by weather, which makes volatility more likely.
The spring season was anywhere from disastrous to tolerable for Georgia growers. Prices for peppers were simply too low as an oversupply was the order of the season.
Decent yields combined with no adverse effects on other areas that harvest within the same market window as Georgia resulted in low prices overall for one of the state's most valuable commodities.
Some vegetables were up and down even within the spring season. Commodities such as squash and snap beans saw some decent prices intermingled with periods of low returns.
One area that did seem to thrive fairly well was the melon market. Both watermelons and cantaloupes were able to sustain good prices throughout the season.
Many people had predicted a low ebb in watermelon prices after the record prices received in 2005. Although the 2006 prices were no where near the records of the year before, they did seem to stay high enough for growers to stay competitive and probably turn a modest profit for the season.
Cantaloupes were favorable as well for most of the season.
A cool spring caused some concerns early on as the March weather seemed reluctant to give way to spring. That caused a slow start for vegetables in the early part of the year.
Much of that slow start was also responsible for some of the low prices as Georgia was thrown into a bit later window than normal and started to overlap with some of the markets further north.
However, as summer came in, it came with a vengeance. By the time most Georgia growers were ready to transition to the fall crop, the heat was turned up on high. This held back the fall crop as tender transplants struggled in the heat to survive.
However, the fall crop has not been too bad for Georgia growers across the board. While yields may not set any state records, the prices for most fall commodities among Georgia vegetables have been a decided improvement over the spring deal.
The state managed to avoid the brunt of any tropical storm systems as the hurricane season was much milder than predicted. Unlike two years ago, and to some degree last year, the Georgia vegetable crops haven't been affected either way by the hurricane season.
If you truly look back on the year's weather, it has almost been as close to normal as Georgia growers have seen in a while. There were drought conditions across the state. However, cool March weather and hot summers shouldn't be a huge surprise, and there were no major hurricanes.
A killing frost had not affected the crop by mid-November in most of south Georgia.
So all in all, why did normal lead to volatility? Because in an industry where supply and demand are what truly dictate the market and where weather can affect supply and demand, volatility is pretty much the norm.