Alabama Cooperative Extension System

This year is expected to be a difficult one for Alabama's peach growers.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System says farmers are expected to produce only 10 to 30 percent of their usual harvest this year.

The combination of a warm winter, a late frost and the lingering stress caused by last year's drought are hurting crops at some peach orchards. The central part of Alabama is particularly hard hit.

Edgar Vinson, an Alabama Extension fruit specialist, says peaches need a certain number of cold days every winter to produce healthy fruit in the spring and summer.

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Eastern Alabama farmers say they're feeling the lingering effects of an unusually wet summer.

Joseph Collier farms peas, okra, cucumbers, squash and tomatoes in Mountainboro and works 10 months of the years as a school janitor to qualify for health insurance and other benefits.

Collier told the Gadsden Times he lost most of his crops this year because of heavy rain and missed the corn-planting season altogether because of wet soil.

www.food-safetycertificate.co.uk

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System is offering food safety training to producers who sell at farmers markets.

Officials say the goal is to prevent outbreaks of foodborne illness.

Auburn University professor Jean Weese studies food safety. She said even one outbreak traced back to a farmers market can undermine years of effort that goes into building a customer base.