(June 25) BLYTHE, Calif. — California melon growers say their more exotic items — specialty melons such as galias, crenshaws, ambrosias and juan canaries — will likely be in short supply in late June and early July.
Supplies of specialty melons are generally fickle during transitions to different growing regions, but as crops finish in California’s Imperial Valley there is expected to be a longer lag this season before melons in northern areas are ready, said Jeremy Giovannetti, sales director for Half Moon Fruit & Produce Co., Yolo, Calif.
“This year, with the growing conditions being as they have in San Joaquin, they’ve been cool, and they’re a little bit later up there,” said Giovannetti, whose company has a reciprocal sales arrangement with Fisher Ranch Corp., Blythe, Calif., that gives both growers melon supplies from Yuma, Blythe, Huron and Yolo.
“I don’t think it’s a crisis situation, not anything real severe, but there will be a gap,” he said. “Or it could be just very light production versus absolutely nothing at all out there. The varieties that are going to be gapping aren’t the most popular ones out there. It’s not like we’ll be out of them for a month — more like a week to 10 days.”
TIGHTER FOR ORGANICS
Organic retailers looking for specialty melons through the first week in July might be especially short on product. Sue Heger, whose family grows melons in Southern California at Heger Organic Farms Sales, El Centro, said some specialty melons generally mature later than watermelons, honeydews or cantaloupes. Heger Organic Farms Sales handles orange-flesh melons, ambrosias, juan canaries and sharlyns.
“Most of the people are finished down here,” Heger said. “The coolers are about shut down. It could be an extend (gap), but it depends on the varieties.”
James Wert, a broker with Bakersfield-based Billingsley Produce Sales Inc., said a few specialty melons remained in Blythe on June 24.
“The galias are out there, with a very few from Blythe,” Wert said. “When you get up here in the San Joaquin Valley, Huron will be the next area.”
Giovannetti said Bakersfield and Huron are usually in production in early July, moving north through the valley and ending in August.
“There are some specialty varieties that come in infrequently. I don’t think the mixed melon deal is seen as a year-round program,” he said. “It’s all about ratios, and knowing which mixed melons move better. Each variety acts differently. They size differently and mature differently and it’s a big fight to have the all of them at the same time in the right sizes.”
Giovannetti said markets were steady, with 35-pound cartons of sizes 5-6 around $8.85. Heger said El Centro-area organic specialty melons were brining $12.50-14.50 a carton on June 24.