Conditions seem to be shaping up well for a successful California melon crop this summer, grower-shippers say.
“The crop generally looks very good,” said Steve Patricio, president and CEO of Westside Produce, Firebaugh, Calif.
The last melon field there should start around June 10, and the company will have product from Yuma until about June 25.
The first fields in Huron, Calif., also are “looking pretty good,” he said, and picking should start there the last part of June.
Patricio was planting his second Huron field the week of April 10.
Westside Produce will have cantaloupes and honeydews in Huron and Firebaugh.
After a late start caused by soggy fields, Dan Andrews Farms, Bakersfield, Calif., will start shipping honeydews and watermelons around June 20, owner Dan Andrews said.
“We were delayed doing tractor work and land preparation,” he said. “It took a while for the ground to dry up.”
It was too soon to comment about potential pest or disease problems in mid-April, he said, but he did say he expected good quality, due in part to ample water supplies.
“We’ve got plenty of water now,” he said.
Brawley, Calif.-based Five Crowns Marketing expects to start watermelons and mini watermelons in Mendota and Tracy by the end of June, said Daren Van Dyke, director of sales and marketing.
Cantaloupes were targeted to start July 1 in Firebaugh and mid-July in Mendota and Patterson.
Varietal melons and honeydews should be ready for harvest about 10 days after the cantaloupes start.
“We don’t see any disease showing up on the early side,” he said in mid-April. “Right now the crop looks outstanding.”
Five Crowns will be testing some organic mini watermelons this season, he said.
Patricio said the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board reports that growers should have adequate water this year.
“We should have good supplies all summer,” he said.
“The last three years have been real tough,” Patricio said, though he added that melons probably were not as hard hit by California’s drought as some other crops, since they require relatively little water and have a short season.