The cantaloupe continues to reign as king of California’s small melon varieties as honeydews play a backup role. The demand for mixed melons, however, remains strong, said grower-shippers.
Turlock Fruit Co., Turlock, Calif., a nearly 90-year-old fixture in the California melon industry, offers 11 varieties of small melons again this season, said Steve Smith. In addition to cantaloupes and honeydews, Turlock Fruit’s inventory includes orange-flesh honeydews, galias and juan canaries, all of which are early season varieties, he said.
Following will be crenshaws, hamis, casabas and sharlyns, Smith said.
Huron, Calif.-based Couture Farms grows limited amounts of cantaloupes and honeydews, but specializes in mixed melons, said Steve Couture, co-owner.
“Retailers find the mixed melons are a good complement to cantaloupes, honeydews and watermelons,” he said. “And because we’re not moving huge volumes, we can get the harvest dates right, keep the sugar up in them and give our retailers a nice experience,” he said.
The mixed melon harvest is scheduled to begin after July 1, “likely after July 4,” Couture said.
Among the varieties available from Couture Farms are crenshaws, persians, casabas, canaries, orange flesh honeydews, santa clauses and hamis, Smith said.
A new player in the mixed melon category this year is V.H. Azhderian & Co. Inc., Los Banos, Calif.
“We’re just getting our feet wet,” said Berj Moosekian, general manager.
The company, a longtime cantaloupe grower, will be marketing orange-flesh honeydews among a few mixed melon varieties, he said.
The harvest is scheduled to begin about July 19 — or about the same time as last season, Moosekian said.
“But I’m hopeful we’ll be able to start sooner,” he said.