Acreage hasn’t changed much for Texas Watermelon shippers this season, but they hope shipments will be much better this season than last.

An early April hailstorm wiped out a good chunk of acreage last season, but shippers are optimistic about this year’s crop, said Bret Erickson, president of Mission-based Texas International Produce Association.

“We may have a small number of areas come off a little early than last week of April, but by and large, harvest should get cranking here sometime around that first full week of May,” he said.

Jeff Fawcett, sales manager for Bagley Produce Inc., Edinburg, Texas, agreed.

“Things are looking really good with the South Texas crop,” Fawcett said on April 9. “We’re hoping to start harvesting the first week of May.”

Chris Eddy, general manager for Edinburg-based Crescent Fruit & Vegetable LLC, said he toured fields in the first week of April.

“The biggest watermelon I saw out there is cantaloupe size. Most are more like (the size of) a fist,” he said.

He said they should start shipping around the second week of May.

Jimmy Henderson, owner of McAllen, Texas-based Warren Produce LLC, said he expects most shippers to be in the deal by the second week of May. Early volumes will be light, he said.

“Our March was very detrimental to the early crop set,” he said. “We had real heavy winds, cool sunless days and cool nights and all that keeps the plant from setting fruit.”

Fruit set has begun, he said April 9.

“Plants now are doing really well weatherwise,” he said. “We have a lot of catching up now, but there’s only so much you can do.”

Ward Thomas, owner of McAllen-based Majestic Produce Co. said he expects an earlier start for his operations.

“The crop looks good, and we should start harvesting close to April 22, with volumes about two weeks after,” he said.

“Acreage is the same but we’re running out of water.”