Westside deal could start by 4th of July - The Packer

Westside deal could start by 4th of July

06/16/2014 01:00:00 PM
Tom Burfield

Buyers might be able to snap up some high-quality melons out of California’s Westside growing area in time for the Fourth of July.

Wayde Kirschenman, president of Kirschenman Enterprises Inc., Edison, Calif., visits a watermelon field in mid-June. The firm started harvesting watermelons June 6, a week earlier than last year.Tom BurfieldWayde Kirschenman, president of Kirschenman Enterprises Inc., Edison, Calif., visits a watermelon field in mid-June. The firm started harvesting watermelons June 6, about a week earlier than last year, and will offer them for about two months. Size and quality look good, he says. Fresno, Calif.-based Crown Jewels Produce might kick off its melon program in late June — its earliest start ever — said Atomic Torosian, managing partner.

Torosian said he’s had a cantaloupe deal since the early 1970s.

“I don’t ever remember starting in the month of June,” he said. “It was always after the first of July.”

Several crops are coming on earlier than usual this year because of unusually warm weather.

Crown Jewels Produce sells cantaloupes and honeydews under the King Crow label.

Kirschenman Enterprises Inc., Edison, Calif., started its seedless watermelon program June 5, about five days ahead of schedule, said president Wayde Kirschenman.

“The fields look good in Bakersfield,” he said. “We’re optimistic for a good season.”

Sizing should be normal, he added, with watermelons about equally divided among 4s, 5s and 6s.

Five Crowns Marketing is based in Brawley, Calif., in the southern part of the state, but also grows cantaloupes and honeydews in the San Joaquin Valley, said Daren Van Dyke, director of sales and marketing.

Because of the drought, this will be the first year the company will not have a Bakersfield deal, but Five Crowns made some late plantings in the lower desert to make up for the lost volume.

Van Dyke expected to get started before the Fourth of July, and he said production should gear up during the weeks following the holiday.

“Quality looks like it’s going to be very good,” he said June 6, though the fruit at that time still was softball size.

Van Dyke said he hoped to be back in Bakersfield in 2015.

Del Mar Farms, Patterson, Calif., should start its melon deal the first week of July, just like last year, said Brian Wright, sales manager.

“So far, it’s pretty much been an ideal growing season for us,” he said in early June.

He did not expect to see gaps or shortages and hoped to start and finish this year’s melon program with no peaks or valleys.

The company ships cantaloupes, honeydews and hami melons and should continue its melon deal until late October or early November.

Dulcinea Farms LLC, Ladera Ranch, Calif., has as many acres of the company’s PureHeart and Tuscan-style cantaloupes planted in California as in previous seasons, said general manager John McGuigan.


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