Watermelon shippers expect a good quality crop from Kern County - The Packer

Watermelon shippers expect a good quality crop from Kern County

04/20/2012 01:41:00 PM
Andy Nelson

Up-and-down growing weather shouldn’t affect the quality, size or yields of Kern County watermelons.

Thomson International Inc., Bakersfield, Calif., expects to begin harvesting watermelons from Kern County in early June, said Jack Thomson, president and chief executive officer.

Variable weather — warm followed by cold and rainy weather and then back to warm — in early spring led growers to wish for more consistency, but yields and quality weren’t thought to be affected, and Thomson International expected to begin its harvest on time, Thomson said.

The company’s Kern County watermelon acreage is down slightly from last year, Thomson said.

Markets, Thomson said, are anyone’s guess.

“It’s hard to tell until you have something to sell,” he said. “It’s hard to speculate.”

On April 17, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of 20-22 cents per pound for 35- and 45-count 24-inch bins of red seedless watermelons from Mexico, up from 14-16 cents last year at the same time.

The company’s mix of red seedless and yellow-flesh watermelons will be mostly unchanged from last year, Thomson said.

“We pretty much cut out our minis (watermelons), which wasn’t big anyway,” he said. “We’re just kind of sticking with the production we’ve developed over the past few years.”

Watermelons in Kern County should be on track for strong July 4 volumes, said Joe Nunez, farm adviser for the University of California’s Kern County cooperative extension office.

Grapes

Bakersfield-based Top Brass Marketing expects to begin marketing Kern County grapes the first week of July, said Brett Dixon, president.

Top Brass expects its grape volumes to be up in 2012, Dixon said.

“Table grapes look slightly earlier than last season, and the crop looks very good,” he said.



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