Watermelon, peaches, blueberries ramp up in Georgia

05/04/2012 01:14:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

A favorable spring is accelerating Georgia watermelon production.

Greg Leger, president and partner in Leger & Son Inc., Cordele, Ga., said the season, beginning with south Florida’s earlier than normal start, seems to be moving along early.

“If it doesn’t slow down, we may have May watermelons in Georgia instead of June 10, when we normally start,” he said in mid-April.

“That may extend the season. Seems like everything is balanced and fair this season. There is no overproduction,” he said.

“The spring-like weather in the Northeast has generated more interest in the watermelon crop than this time last year when they had cold weather and tornadoes everywhere.”

Adel, Ga.-based Borders Melons East, a part of Edinburg, Texas-based Borders Melon Co. Inc., was still transplanting its remaining acreage in mid-April.

Mark Paul, salesman and general manager, said Borders plans to begin production June 10.

“Everything’s on time and (looking) good for Georgia,” he said in mid-April.

“We have had good weather and good growing conditions. All the plants are growing.”

Citing a higher than normal market, Leger and Paul in mid-April quoted 28-30 cents per-pound prices from south Florida.

In mid-April, Adam Lytch, operations manager for Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos. Inc., quoted 30 cents a pound and higher.

“The crops don’t seem to be quite as big as everyone thought they would have been,” he said.

“This time last year, we were on an 18 cents market. Yields are not quite as good,” he said.

“Quality, however, is the best quality of early watermelon to come out of Florida in a long time.”

Lytch said L&M transplanted in mid-April.

He said central Florida should hit volume in May.

North Florida should begin shipping May 10, much earlier than its normal late May start, Lytch said.


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