California growers anticipate normal melon volume - The Packer

California growers anticipate normal melon volume

06/08/2009 09:01:20 AM
Don Schrack

California’s water woes have been well-documented and the state’s melon acreage is diminishing, but westside melon grower-shippers said they anticipate normal volume for 2009.

“The deal could be even bigger than last year if we get enough water,” said Atomic Torosian, managing partner at Crown Jewels Marketing & Distribution LLC, Fresno, Calif.

A normal crop of cantaloupes in the San Joaquin Valley is about 20 million cartons, said Jerry Munson, manager of the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board, Dinuba.

A new alliance between Crown Jewels and Firebaugh, Calif.-based Perez Packing Inc. has the Fresno firm selling the cantaloupe and honeydew programs for Perez.

The companies have resurrected the venerable King Crow label, which was a fixture in the melon industry for decades.

Picking should begin the first week in July, Torosian said, and will continue into October, weather permitting.

The opening act for the valley’s 2009 melon crop will likely be seedless watermelons from Kirschenman Enterprises Inc., Edison, Calif.

Harvesting of the company’s green and yellow seedless melons should begin about June 10, said Wayde Kirschenman, vice president.

Volume should be about the same as 2008, he said.

However, the company has increased its production of the yellow seedless variety.

The harvest at Westside Produce Co., Firebaugh, could begin as early at July 1, said Jim Malanca, co-owner and sales manager.

“We planted our first cantaloupes the last Monday in March, but we usually go by the bloom date,” he said, “And the bloom  date says we’ll be able to start picking July 1.”

That date is not a signal for all retailers to plan major promotions for the Fourth of July holiday.

“It takes four or five days to get the fruit to the East Coast,” Malanca said. “There would not be enough back east for the holiday weekend.”

Depending on the weather, picking could start before July at Stamoules Produce Co., Mendota, Calif., said Demetri Karabinis, salesman.

The company’s cantaloupes and honeydews may start going into the S&S branded cartons as early as late June, Karabinis said, but it could be as late as early July.

Water will not be a problem at Stamoules, and volume should be about the same as the 2008 deal, he said.

The all-cantaloupe program at V.H. Azhderian & Co. Inc., Los Banos, Calif., could hit 900,000 cartons this season, said Josie Rodriguez, office manager.

Los Banos is in the heart of an uncertain water region, but Azhderian & Co. will have enough water for the 2009 crop, she said.

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Jane Ryan    
Southwest Michigan (Battle Creek/Kalamazoo)  |  October, 01, 2011 at 08:41 AM

The King Crow cantaloup from Horrock's (Battle Creek) is delicious and healthy -- I trust there has not been any "listeria" found in them -- am I right? Thanks.

Maria G.    
Beverly Hills, Mi.  |  October, 01, 2011 at 10:47 AM

I purchased a cantaloupe from Randanzzo's in Dearbprn Heights Mi. The label was King Crow from Calif. I'm still hesitant to eat it due to the listeria outbreak. Is it safe to eat? If it can be eaten, what precautions can I take? Thanks.

loretta fox    
urbana ,illinois  |  October, 03, 2011 at 08:11 AM

I bought a cantalope at Aldi in Urbana, Illinois. It has king crow label. Is it safe to eat?

Ryan Kane    
Lenexa, KS  |  October, 05, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Please note the appearance of this article among the "most popular" was due to a technical glitch that occurred for about a day a couple weeks or so back. This is not a current story, but rather a special sections story from June 2009 (as noted below the headline as with all stories). Neither at that time nor now have King Crow/California cantaloupes been linked to any listeria outbreak. The only cantaloupes linked to the current outbreak were shipped by Granada, Colo.-based Jensen Farms. For the latest update and related links regarding the matter, go here: Thank you, Ryan Kane at

A Cudina    
New York  |  August, 20, 2012 at 07:53 AM

Just purchased a cantalaupe in the Shoprite Supermarket in New City, N.Y. The label on the melon said King Crow USA. I want to know what state it came from because of the recent concern regarding salmonella. Thank You

Milwaukee, WI  |  August, 23, 2012 at 04:53 PM

We just bought 2 cantaloupes from Aldi in Milwaukee, WI. Could you please let me know if they're safe to eat after the recent outbreak of salmonella? Thank you, looking forward to cutting it up & eating them.

Coral Beach    
August, 24, 2012 at 10:45 AM

Dawn, here is information ALDI spokeswoman Lauren Acosta provided The Packer late on the afternoon of Aug. 23: "ALDI is voluntarily recalling all cantaloupes grown in the state of Indiana due to the recent outbreak of Salmonella. ALDI initiated the voluntary recall as a precautionary measure and we have removed all affected product from the stores’ selling floor. Product was replaced on the sales floor with cantaloupes grown in other geographic regions." Lauren also said additional ALDI food safety information is available at: --Coral Beach, staff writer

hamilton nj  |  September, 18, 2012 at 09:18 AM

i see comments on about safety of your cantaloupes but no answers, looks like your blowing smoke out.

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