California melons ready for mid-May debut

04/22/2011 02:04:00 PM
Don Schrack

BRAWLEY, Calif. — Plastic saved California’s early melon crop in the Imperial Valley, grower-shippers said.

A late winter frost hit the region’s corn — causing weak supplies in April but left the plastic-covered melon plants unscathed.

“We look to break our first domestic cantaloupes between May 5 and May 7,” said Daren Van Dyke, sales and marketing manager for Five Crowns Marketing, Brawley. “We’ll have good volume through late May.”

Volume will dip around the Memorial Day weekend but will rebound for good supplies through June, he said.

“The plants look very, very healthy, and sets are above average to very good,” he said in early April. “We’ll be able to take good promotions starting the week of May 9 through the week of May 23.”

Harvesting of the desert honeydews and mixed melons will start later in May, Van Dyke said, with packing of honeydews scheduled to begin May 17-19 and mixed melons following May 19-23.

Continued good weather through April also will mean good sizing, Van Dyke said.

“It looks like a heavy nine crop at this point,” he said.

Planting of Huron-area California cantaloupes and honeydews began in early April for Crown Jewels Marketing LLC, Fresno, said Atomic Torosian, managing partner. For the third consecutive year, Crown Jewels will be marketing melons grown by Perez Packing Inc., Firebaugh.

“We’re anticipating starting the harvest right after July 4,” he said.

Before the California deal, Crown Jewels will be marketing Mexican melons and “a small Yuma deal,” Torosian said.

In the northern San Joaquin Valley, Westley-based Delmar Farms is scheduled to begin harvesting its all company-grown cantaloupes and honeydews about July 15, said Brian Wright, salesman.

“We’re up in acreage and looking forward to a good year,” he said.

Although late March-early April rains delayed planting, ATB Distributing Co., Turlock, is scheduled to begin harvesting cantaloupes and honeydews at about the same time, about July 10, said Lance LeVake, president and general manager.

“We’re going to be about a week behind last year’s start, but we’re projected to go through Oct. 10-12,” he said.



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