Nightly News   |  July 30, 2013

Heavy rain could yield higher price tags for summer produce

In the South, rainfall totals are more than 20 percent higher than normal, resulting in billions of damaged crops that could boost the average price of fruits and vegetables by 10 percent. NBC’s Janet Shamlian reports.

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>>> for all the times and all the years we've reported on is this broadcast about american farmers struggling with seemingly relentless drought. right now the expression when it rains it pours comes to mind. a whole lot of farms, especially throughout the american southeast have had way too much rain this season, and it's going to come with a big price. nbc's janet shamlian in ft. valley georgia for us tonight with this story. janet, good evening.

>> brian, good evening to you. it is nothing short of mud soup out here in the fields and orchards. usually the problem is too little rain. and this year the crops are drowning. duke lane can't believe these are the same orchards so parched and thirsty just a year ago. the central georgia farmer harvests one of the largest peach crops in the nation. but after a summer of seemingly nonstop downpours, he's lost a third of his yield.

>> we were really picking in water for most of the summer. it's a problem for the peaches not to be picked in the proper time .

>> peaches aren't the only crop in trouble.

>> across the southeast, the soaking won't stop. the ground is too wet to cut wheat. cotton and peanut crops are drowning.

>> this is the worst battle of water we've ever had.

>> georgia's rainfall is 34% higher than normal. north carolina and south carolina up 25%.

>> the forecast for the southeast is for continued above average wet pattern going into the fall.

>> reporter: all that rain has meant billions of dollars in damaged crops, trickling down directly to your grocery store.

>> i wouldn't expect to see average prices for fruits and vegetables, maybe 10% higher this fall. than they were in the spring or where they are right now. just because there's going to be less supply available.

>> that may mean higher prices for summer staples like melons, tomatoes and cucumbers. the deep south is hardest hit. vermont's corn crops are also soaked. in upstate new york , sat tu ated fields have crippled plows. endangering peas, tomatoes, even the most hearty of crops.

>> i've never sold green pumpkin pumpkins at halloween, but you never know, maybe this year.

>> reporter: they're hoping after last year's punishing drought and this year's heavy rain , next year mother nature will be easier on them. you can clearly see the impact of all that rain in this year's peach crop. this is a normal size peach. take a look at there year's model. three inches. when it's loaded with that much rain, brian, dilutes the sweetness of the fruit.

>> janet, thanks.