Mexican watermelon prices fall from last year

10/26/2005 12:00:00 AM
Gabrielle Kirkland

(Oct. 26) Watermelon supplies out of Mexico’s northern growing region started slightly behind last year with prices averaging about 10 cents lower.

Watermelon prices were about 14-15 cents a pound in late October, said Brent Harrison, president of Al Harrison Co. Distributors Inc., Nogales, Ariz.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture described Mexican watermelon shipments through Nogales as steady Oct. 24.

Prices for cartons of 4s were 16-18 cents per pound, 5s were 16-17 cents, 6s were 11-13 cents and 8s were 9-10 cents, according to USDA.

“It is not a great market, especially for the fall Mexican market,” Harrison said.

About this time last year, red-flesh seedless 4s were priced at 26-28 cents and 5s mostly at 26 cents.

Late-season domestic watermelon prices ended on a low note, Harrison said.

Nick Rendon, sales manager for Nogales-based grower-shipper The Giumarra Cos., called volume normal for the season.

“It is typical. Nothing major like the spring,” Rendon said.

Giumarra started in a light way in late October with production out of Hermosillo, Rendon said. The firm plans to start harvesting near the first of January out of Colima, a southern growing region.

“Once we get going in Colima we shouldn’t end until June 15,” Rendon said.

Harrison said watermelon crossings were in noticeable volumes the week of Oct. 17.

“Timing is good because the domestic crop was cut short because of a freeze in New Mexico,” he said.

MAS Melons & Grapes LLC, Nogales, received its first Mexican watermelon load Oct. 20, said Antonio Munoz, salesman. The company should have watermelons out of the northern region until the last week of December, he said.

The southern crop is forecast to be harvested from January to April, he said.

Farmer’s Best International LLC, Nogales, is offering only seedless watermelons this season and in the spring will have seeded and seedless varieties, said Jerry Wagner, sales manager.

The company started about 10 days earlier than usual because of abnormally warm weather out of Guaymas, Wagner said. Farmer’s Best only farms watermelons in Guaymas.

Its winter crop started Oct. 10 and is forecasted to go until Dec. 10.

QUALITY

Wagner said quality and sugar are excellent on the winter crop, and others tended to agree.

“Some of the watermelons are cutting a little pink with brix between 12 and 15,” Munoz said.

He said this range is what customers like.

“A 10 is low and 15 is high,” Munoz said.

Production in the southern region is experiencing some issues with the white fly. Harrison said the pest is prominent in that area and is a regular problem every year. White flies are known to starve the plant and cause small watermelon sizes, he said. In addition, they leave behind a sticky residue called honeydew.

He estimates that a small portion of the acreage will not be harvested because of damage from white flies and excessive rains.



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