The grower-shipper was also ramping up desert harvest of its Tuscan-type cantaloupes in late May and will transition to the Westside in early July.
Depending on the weather, Dulcinea will finish in the San Joaquin Valley in late September or early October, he said.
“We anticipate another active and productive year in the watermelon category for both minis and full-sized seedless,” McGuigan said. “The cantaloupe category is still rebounding, but we see a consistently strong demand for our Tuscan cantaloupes.”
Farther north, Del Mar Farms expects to begin harvest about July 5, the earliest start in the 13 years the Patterson, Calif.-based operation has been growing cantaloupe and honeydew, said Brian Wright, sales manager.
“We kind of embrace it,” he said of the early start. “The problem with a late season is you usually get a condensed marketing window. This way we get another week or so. It just extends the season.”
Wright said the season should run into the first week of November.
Since entering the Westside deal in 2000, Del Mar Farms has increased its cantaloupe acreage about 10% annually, he said.
The melons, which work well as a rotational crop with processing tomatoes, have become one of the operation’s staples.