KNOX COUNTY, Ind. (WAWV/WTWO) – Local watermelon farms say they have seen a higher demand for this year’s crops, as shoppers look for value in the produce department.

However, as a dry June has affected pollination for local farmers, they have seen a bit of a production gap.

“The ideal growing season for watermelons would be just a nice dry season with about an inch of rain every week, President of the Illiana Watermelon Association (IWA) Cody Smith said. “But that hardly ever happens.”

“We’ve seen a very hot and dry June, which is good, but we got a little too hot this year,” Illiana Watermelon Association Board Chairman Kelly Tyner said. “This has affected pollination, as bees are very lazy when it comes to inclement weather.”

IWA controls around 90 percent of the watermelons shipped out of the area, and over 70 percent of the production happens in and around Knox County. Smith said watermelon farms have a long history in Knox County.

“The tradition of growing watermelons in Knox County dates back all the way to the early 1900s,” Smith said. “In Oaktown, they actually load them on railcars.”

Over 7,000 acres of watermelons are produced in the Illiana Region and amount to anywhere between 7,000 to 10,000 loads of watermelons. Tyner said Indiana ranks 5th in the country in watermelon production given the cooperative weather conditions.

“We normally see anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 loads of watermelons,” Tyner said. ” In 2020, I believe we were at a surplus of the 10,000.”

Despite the later start, Tyner expects farms will still see a positive harvest season ahead.

Knox County will have its annual Watermelon Festival in downtown Vincennes on August 5 and 6. For a list of IWA events, you can visit their website here.