Last year, about 60 loads of cantaloupesl grown by Rocky Ford Melon Co. were harvested and shipped through Shane Farms, Stedman said. From 50 to 75 loads is a typical volume, he said.
Rocky Ford Melon Co. had 200 acres of cantaloupes last season, but this year it planted only 80 acres. Stedman said the company is reducing cantaloupe production and planting more watermelons.
This is the fifth season Rocky Ford Melon Co. has grown watermelon. Last year, the company shipped 35 loads of mostly seedless watermelon from about 36 acres. This season, it has 60 acres of seedless watermelon.
“We felt like we had room to grow,” Stedman said. “If we’re able to move all the fruit … we may go up again (in acreage).”
By Aug. 15, Rocky Ford Melon Co. watermelons should be in peak production, harvesting three to four loads a day.
Rocky Ford Melon Co.’s main market is in Denver, where it ships seedless and seeded watermelon to retail customers, including Safeway, Stedman said.
Ringer & Son Brokerage Co. Inc., Commerce City, Colo., also handles sales of Rocky Ford Melon’s watermelons and Shane Farms’ Famous Rocky Ford cantaloupes.
Denver is Shane Farms’ primary market, but customers outside of Colorado include Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc., Kansas City, Kan., and several small brokers, Stedman said. Other Shane Farms customers include Walmart and Safeway, Shane said.
Shane Farms and Rocky Ford Melon Co. grow onions as a rotation crop, Stedman said. L&M Cos. Inc., Raleigh, N.C., sells the companies’ onions.