Acreage is stable for the firm, and Turlock Fruit will ship about 60% honeydew, 30% cantaloupe and 10% mixed melons, he said.
Marketing the long-time western shipper-type cantaloupe, Smith said Turlock will use the hashtag #realcantaloupes in its marketing efforts.
In contrast to the majority of the industry that has turned to long shelf-life and sometimes higher-yielding varieties, Smith said the western shipper-type has more aroma, better flavor and color than some of the newer varieties.
In addition, the western shipper cantaloupe naturally slips from the vine when it is ready to be harvested.
“We got e-mails from consumers last summer who said, ‘Why doesn’t everyone grow these types of cantaloupes? They are the cantaloupes we remember,’” he said.
The company also prides itself on marketing high maturity honeydews under the King O’ The West label, he said.
“We are looking for partners who care more about flavor,” he said. “There are customers like that, who understand it will cost a little more, since what we do costs more to us.”
A western shipper-type cantaloupe vine may be harvested 10 times while newer longer shelf-life varieties might be picked just two times, he said.