Buyers might be able to snap up some high-quality melons out of California’s Westside growing area in time for the Fourth of July.
Torosian said he’s had a cantaloupe deal since the early 1970s.
“I don’t ever remember starting in the month of June,” he said. “It was always after the first of July.”
Several crops are coming on earlier than usual this year because of unusually warm weather.
Crown Jewels Produce sells cantaloupes and honeydews under the King Crow label.
Kirschenman Enterprises Inc., Edison, Calif., started its seedless watermelon program June 5, about five days ahead of schedule, said president Wayde Kirschenman.
“The fields look good in Bakersfield,” he said. “We’re optimistic for a good season.”
Sizing should be normal, he added, with watermelons about equally divided among 4s, 5s and 6s.
Five Crowns Marketing is based in Brawley, Calif., in the southern part of the state, but also grows cantaloupes and honeydews in the San Joaquin Valley, said Daren Van Dyke, director of sales and marketing.
Because of the drought, this will be the first year the company will not have a Bakersfield deal, but Five Crowns made some late plantings in the lower desert to make up for the lost volume.
Van Dyke expected to get started before the Fourth of July, and he said production should gear up during the weeks following the holiday.
“Quality looks like it’s going to be very good,” he said June 6, though the fruit at that time still was softball size.
Van Dyke said he hoped to be back in Bakersfield in 2015.
Del Mar Farms, Patterson, Calif., should start its melon deal the first week of July, just like last year, said Brian Wright, sales manager.
“So far, it’s pretty much been an ideal growing season for us,” he said in early June.
He did not expect to see gaps or shortages and hoped to start and finish this year’s melon program with no peaks or valleys.
The company ships cantaloupes, honeydews and hami melons and should continue its melon deal until late October or early November.
Dulcinea Farms LLC, Ladera Ranch, Calif., has as many acres of the company’s PureHeart and Tuscan-style cantaloupes planted in California as in previous seasons, said general manager John McGuigan.
“Given all the concerns about water and the fallow ground, it’s a pretty big accomplishment to have enough grower partners that were still interested in supporting the program in a very difficult year,” he said.
California cantaloupes could be sweeter than usual this year because many growers are using large amounts of well water to irrigate their crops, said Barry Zwillinger, owner of Legend Produce LLC, Firebaugh, Calif.
Well water has a slightly higher salt content than water from other sources, he said, which makes for sweeter melons.
The downside is that sizing could be slightly smaller than usual.
Steve Couture, partner in Couture Farms, Huron, Calif., is optimistic about the coming crop.
“We’ve had a much nicer, warmer spring (than last year),” he said. “We have healthy vines and nice-looking fields.”
But he said water stress that results when growers try to irrigate the same amount of acreage as in past seasons using less water could result in a reduction in plants and fruit set.
“I don’t see a very big crop out there,” he said.
Still, he added, “I think we’ll have a good year.”
Devine Organics LLC, Fresno, Calif., should have a good supply of organic cantaloupes as well as organic honeydews and orange-flesh honeydews from California’s Westside this season, said Rod Rosales, director of sales.
The company should be finished with its Yuma, Ariz., deal by June 23, he said. Small sizing was a concern out of Yuma, but Rosales does not expect that to be a factor when the deal transitions to California’s Westside growing area.
“Everything here looks normal,” he said June 9.
“We’re optimistic that we’re going to have normal size, good production and hopeful that we’re going to have a good market.”