Yields on the company’s honeydew and specialty crops could be half of what they are in a bumper-crop year, Couture said. Couture wrapped up its cantaloupe crop at the end of July. The honeydew and specialty deals should wrap up about Aug. 25. Some years the company ships melons until the end of July, Couture said.
The USDA reported prices of $4-4.50 for two-thirds cartons of 4s from the San Joaquin Valley, up from $2.50-3.35 last year at the same time. Size 5-6s were $5-6.50, up from last year’s price of $3-3.50 for 5-8s.
About 77 million pounds of honeydews from California had shipped year-to-date, down from 86 million pounds at the same time last year, the USDA reported. Nationwide, 635 million pounds had shipped, down from 665 million pounds last year.
Atomic Torosian, managing partner of Crown Jewels Marketing, Fresno, agreed with Couture that 2006 is one for the ages.
“I’ve been doing this since 1972, and I’ve never seen a late July/early August where most growers were so down on production,” he said. “Prices have been higher than they’ve been in awhile.”
Torosian predicted that cantaloupe and honeydew supplies would increase in the weeks leading up to Labor Day, with prices falling accordingly. He reported good quality and very good color on the company’s melons.