Winter weather causes price hikes for veggies

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) – If you eat your vegetables, you may have noticed they are a little more expensive compared to this time last year.

Farmers at the Pee Dee Market Plant and Flower Festival said they had to increase their prices of certain crops due to harsh winter weather.

"It all depends on what variety it is," Ivory Lee Wilson said. He explained certain crops such as snow pea, strawberry and sweet potato have increased anywhere from 100-300 percent over the last year. He believes part of this is due to the increase in oil, which affects shipping costs.

"We have to continue to raise the price, and the people struggle to buy it. They fuss at us, but there's nothing we can do," he said.

Farmers with crops growing in the Pee Dee region said they were not able to bring their entire supply of plants of produce because the cold winter slowed their growth.

"Most of the plants, it knocked them a little further behind as far as being ready for this show," Jason Lamb explained, owner of Lamb's Produce in Florence. He said the near-freezing temperatures in parts of the Pee Dee this past Wednesday cost his an additional 12 hours covering plants out in the field.

"Every now and then the cold weather hits us and we have to go to any measure to save the plants, you know, so they'll be looking good for the customers."

Approximately 100 vendors are participating in the four-day festival. They sell a variety of items, including shrubbery and flowers, and horticulture-related products such as lawn and garden equipment, yard decor, fertilizers, etc.

Food vendors also attend to serve food from local restaurants, as well as sell specialty foods native to South Carolina  including jarred jam and honey.

"[It's] one of the best turnouts with me being here in 13 years," Shelley Hickson said. Although he had to increase slightly the prices of his produce, he said he has made strong profits at the festival this year.

"South Carolina grows some of the best produce that we can even put in the market," he added

The plant and flower festival will run from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 10.

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