Rain, cold cut winter watermelon volumes

01/25/2013 01:55:00 PM
Andy Nelson

Rainy, cold January weather put a dent in winter watermelon volumes from Mexico.

Crossings from Mexico into the U.S. were down 40% in mid-January and could be down as much as 40% through mid-March, thanks to Mother Nature, said Jimmy Henderson, owner of McAllen, Texas-based Warren Produce LLC.

“The rain last week was a game-changer,” Henderson said Jan. 17.

In some growing regions, Henderson said, it wasn’t so much the intensity of the rain as the duration. In Nayarit, for instance, it was more a mist than rain, but it lasted for a week.

In Jalisco, the rain was heavier, he said.

The amount of rainfall wasn’t as important as the fact that it came in January, Henderson said.

“The timing was real bad,” he said. “There’s shorter daylight, the plants get stressed and they can’t work back into health.”

At other times of the year, plants are able to recover much better than they can during the winter.

On top of the volumes lost from the rains, acreage in Western Mexico was down to begin with, Henderson said.

The quality of the crop, at least up until mid-January, had been excellent, Henderson said.

In January Warren Produce was sourcing from the Nayarit and Jalisco growing regions.

Winter acreage is similar this year for Edinburg, Texas-based Bagley Produce Co., said Jeff Fawcett, sales manager.

Unlike last year, however, growers in Jalisco and Nayarit haven’t had to contend with hurricanes and other tropical storms this season, Fawcett said, though cool weather and rain have taken a toll.

“It didn’t hurt the crop, but it has slowed things down,” he said.

Cold weather could have a delayed effect, too, affecting supplies in late March and April, Fawcett said.

Bagley Produce expects to switch to Campeche before coming back to Tampico and Jalisco in April and May.

McAllen-based Majestic Produce Sales was sourcing watermelons from Jalisco, Mexico, in January, said Ward Thomas, the company’s owner.

Acreage in 2012-13 was about the same as last season for the company in the region, Thomas said.

Weather problems, though, are limiting volumes.

Majestic Produce Sales’ Mexican deal will likely take a turn in a different direction at about the end of February, when the company switches growing regions.

“Campeche has a big crop,” Thomas said.



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