Volume 4, Number 3                           December 24, 2000

The Farmer

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Freeze Damages Crops

by Dr. Ridgely A. Muímin Muhammad

At Muhammad Farms here in Southwest Georgia we have experienced three days of night temperatures dropping into the teens. As a result our winter crops, broccoli, cabbage and turnip greens have experienced extensive damage. However, since so few people depend on our farm or the farms in this area exclusively for food, most people will not feel the effects and therefore this is no "big news".

We had hoped to supply our customers with chemical and pesticide free fresh produce over the winter months. We have already planted more cabbage, broccoli and turnips, but they have not sprouted as of yet.

Below are given some links to MuhammadFarms.com which will show you how these crops looked on December 8, 2000 and how they looked on December 24, 2000. Farmers are completely at the mercy of nature. Although one might be able to guess what the weather will be over the next day or two, there is nothing that he might do to protect acres of crops without a lot of money and labor. Then after such expenditure will the consumer be willing to pay more for the crop? No!

I also have pictures on MuhammadFarms.com of us picking and cleaning turnip greens to go to the market on December 23rd. We had to pick through them very carefully and throw away damaged leaves. Unfortunately, the plusher the leaves, the more the damage. When we took the crop to the market, we noticed that the store had completely run out of the greens that we had just brought in the day before. However, instead of the store manager being glad to see us, he complained that our leaves were too small and therefore reduced his price to us.

This is what farmers face each and every day. He has no control over the weather. People do not want him to use chemicals to control insects and weeds. People donít want him to use chemical fertilizers to increase his yield and get bigger crops. But at the same time the market and consumer want to get food at the cheapest price and do not care what the farmer has to go through. They want the crops looking perfect, large, clean and shining at their neighborhood store when and if they want them.

When the store owners or brokers canít get what they want from a particular area, they just get on the phone and get their produce from some other "lucky" farmer. Now of course the market price may be set at $12 per dozen bunches. Therefore a farmer living 100 miles away from his market will get the same price as the farmer 10 miles away from his market. And guess who has to pay the transportation costs? The farmer.

Hopefully, Allah Willing, our new crops will fair better.

Freeze damaged crops: Pictures of damaged crops (Dec. 24th)

Winter crops as of December 8th: Pictures of broccoli, cabbage, collards and turnips

Peace, Doc