Shippers expect strong season

04/18/2014 09:49:00 AM
Melissa Shipman

Shippers say the spring and summer melon season should be solid.

“We are looking forward to kicking off spring with a good production out of northern Mexico. It’s been good growing conditions so far. Our outlook for Yuma is looking good as well,” Monique McLaws, marketing director, Dulcinea Farms LLC, Ladera Ranch, Calif., said in an e-mail.

“We expect high yields and quality for both our PureHeart, Ruby Bliss and Tuscan cantaloupe productions,” McLaws said.

Dulcinea offers watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew melons.

Others agree the season should be strong, especially compared to last year.

“We’re already shipping heavy volume out of Mexico. The pricing is more aggressive and in general, the trend should be better quality and higher volume,” said Michael Martori, vice president of sales, Pura Vida Farms LLC, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Others agree the Mexican watermelon season is ahead of schedule.

“Production is earlier. We’ll have good volumes to start promoting for Easter,” said Jesus “Chuy” Lopez Jr., president of Big Chuy Distributors and Sons Inc.

Weather can play a factor in the demand, however, and growers are hoping for warmer temperatures in the coming weeks.

“It’s hard to sell watermelon when the forecast for Memorial Day is only 50 degrees and cloudy. It makes an impact on the volume that will move,” Martori said.

Jeff Fawcett, sales manager for Edinburg, Texas-based Bagley Produce Co., expects a fairly good watermelon season out of Texas this year, although there’s been a bit of a slow start.

“It’s been cool and damp so the plants may come off later,” he said.

Because of these conditions, Fawcett is slightly concerned the first plantings could end up overlapping the second planting when it comes time to harvest.

“It’s still a long time away, but it could happen that planting A catches up with planting B,” he said.

There should still be similar volume to last year, however, and promotable volume for Memorial Day and July Fourth coming out of Texas, said Fawcett.

Tom Glenos, president of Kid’s Choice Fresh Produce Inc., Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said Florida watermelons are a little ahead of average this year, and certainly ahead of last year.

“We didn’t have the freezes like we did last year, so we’re moving along pretty well,” Glenos said.

Cold weather has pushed the Texas cantaloupe crop back about a week for 2014, said Bruce Frasier, president, Dixondale Farms, Carrizo Springs, Texas.


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