Good growing weather should ensure continued steady supplies of high-quality melons from Central America and Mexico, importers said.
The quality of watermelons shipping from the Jalisco region of Mexico in mid-January was outstanding, said Raul Paez, president and general manager of Nogales, Ariz.-based Sandia Distributors.
“Growers have had really good weather, and the fruit now is just superb,” he said.
Plantings are down this year for many growers, but higher yields should mean similar volumes as last season, Paez said.
In mid-January Sandia was bringing in a few Mexican honeydews from Sinaloa, Paez said, with Sonora expected to follow. As with watermelons, the quality of the Mexican honeydews this season has been excellent, he said.
Mexican honeydews are expected to ship through mid- to late February, Paez said.
The week of Jan. 24, the company expected to begin importing watermelons from the Nayarit region, Paez said.
In mid-January, Central American Produce, Pompano Beach, Fla., was importing cantaloupes and honeydews from Guatemala and Honduras, said Michael Warren, president.
Guatemalan melons in the first weeks of the New Year were coming from a high-altitude region known for high brix levels and overall excellent flavor, Warren said.
Central American’s Guatemalan deal began the third week of November, later than in previous years, he said.
The company expects to ship from the Ipala region of Guatemala into February, then switch to the Zacapa region, Warren said.
In mid-April, the deal will switch back to Ipala.
The company’s Honduras deal began in mid-January and will likely run through May, with very good quality reported there, too, Warren said.
Warren reported a good mix of sizes on both cantaloupes and honeydews out of Guatemala and Honduras.
Cantaloupes were peaking on 9s and 12s in mid-January, honeydews on 5s and 6s, he said.
Central American expects a similar mix of melons this year, with about three times more cantaloupes than honeydews, Warren said.
The company also plans to bring in some watermelons from Guatemala beginning in February.
“I was down there last week and the plants look very, very good,” Warren said.
Melon production in Mexico is expected to pick up in the second quarter for Los Angeles-based Giumarra Cos., said Nick Rendon, division manager in the company’s Nogales, Ariz., division.
“We expect to have good production for the second part of the Mexican deal starting in spring,” Rendon said.
Rendon said it was hard to gauge this far in advance what volumes Giumarra can expect out of its Mexican deals.
“The plants are still in the early stages of development, and accurate forecasts are not available,” he said.
In mid-January Rendon reported very good quality and a good mix of sizes on Mexican melons.
“Our growers had a good start to the Mexican melon program,” he said. “The eating quality was particularly exceptional.”