( Photo courtesy Joanna Kosinska; Source Unsplash )

The 2020 domestic watermelon harvest was expected to be underway by the second week of April, according to the Winter Springs, Fla.-based National Watermelon Promotion Board.

Southern Florida typically is the first area out of the gate followed by southern Texas, California and Arizona.

In late March, watermelons were being sourced from Mexico and Central America with volume slightly below the previous four year-average, according the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“We anticipate a good-quality crop as long as we have no major weather-related issues between now and harvest,” said Megan McKenna, senior director of marketing and foodservice for the watermelon promotion board.

Los Angeles-based Pacific Trellis Fruit LLC will have a noteworthy addition to its watermelon line the first week of June, said Josh Leichter, general manager.

The company will offer a line of Kiss Melons for the first time.

Kiss Melons will include Sugar Kiss, Summer Kiss and Limon Kiss and will be available from June to September, said Vivianna Greene, marketing manager.

“These three varieties provide consumers with a new array of satisfyingly sweet tastes, new flavors and creamy textures,” she said.

The company offers Dulcinea brand watermelons year-round, Leichter added.

The majority of the company’s melon program seed is proprietary, Greene said, including PureHeart Mini Seedless Watermelon and SunnyGold Watermelon.

“This gives us an advantage in ensuring unique, amazing flavor and characteristics,” she said.

Yellow mini watermelons will be available June through August.

Rio Rico, Ariz.-based Grower Alliance started its watermelon program March 23 in Obregon, Mexico, said Jorge Quintero Jr., partner/managing member.

That program will continue through late April and will overlap with Hermosillo, which was scheduled to start the first week of April.

“The crop looks good,” Quintero said. “There are plenty of watermelons.”

Sizing should be mostly 45s, with melons continuing until the Fourth of July.

Prices were strong — 40 cents to 42 cents per pound — until the third week of March, he said.

By the end of March, prices had dropped to 30 cents, and he expected prices to be 18-20 cents per pound by mid-April and down to 16 cents by May.

Stella Farms LLC, Scottsdale, Ariz., grows mostly seedless watermelons but also offers seeded varieties, some dark-skinned watermelons and yellow-flesh varieties, said Mike Martori, vice president of sales.

The popularity of seeded watermelons has waned over the past 10 years, he said.

Sales now have leveled off at about 10% to 20% of the company’s watermelon volume.

Seeded melons “enjoy consistent popularity in certain regions,” he said, including the Southwest and major urban centers with large Latino and African American demographics.

Stella Farms ships domestically from April to October and from Mexico all winter.

The company grows watermelons in Florida until mid-June then Georgia until mid-July and Missouri, North Carolina and Indiana from mid-July through Labor Day.

Most Stella Farms watermelons are shipped to the Midwest, Northeast, Southeast and Canada.

Some growers were shipping watermelons out of southern Florida in March, thanks to hot, dry weather, Martori said.

“The crops look very healthy,” he said.

Sizes should be mostly 36s and 45 with some 60s. 

“The weather is doing exactly what you would want it to do, so most crops are going to come off as planned,” Martori said.

Rio Rico-based MAS Melons & Grapes LLC will start shipping seedless watermelons out of Hermosillo April 18, said Miquel Suarez Jr., sales representative.

Distributors usually start receiving product from Sonora the first week of April, he said.

“Fields are looking great,” he said in late March.

The company will offer watermelons through May.

Sizes will range from 36 to 60, with the larger melons shipping at the beginning of the season.

Read more melon marketing updates here.