A new app called Weathermelon for Apple phones and tablets promises users the opportunity stay ahead of pricing swings in produce growing areas cause by the changing weather conditions.
David Robidoux and Thomas Barton launched the iOS app about a month ago, Barton said June 26. An Android version of the app, which costs $1.99 per month, is expected this fall, he said.
The two spent more than a year consolidating U.S. Department of Agriculture shipping reports, industry websites and newsletters to create the most accurate seasonal database on the market, Barton said. Robidoux’s fluency in Spanish helped him secure weather data from Mexico and Chile, he said.
Features of the Weathermelon app include:
- Consolidated list of global growing regions for each commodity;
- 10-day detailed forecasts for each region (radar maps included);
- Estimated production start/end dates for each region; and
- Monthly average high/low temps for each region; and
- Custom daily alerts delivered each morning based on the 10-day forecast.
Robidoux’s full-time job is marketing tomatoes and Barton builds diagnostic machines used by the produce industry. The two life-long friends began work on the app about 18 months ago after talking about the need for more helpful weather information for the industry, Barton said.
Organized by commodity categories — the option of geographic based options is slated or a later version — the app has about 55 users and features are still being added. After several requests for wind information, that data also is in the process of being added to the app, Barton said.
The app excludes growing regions where fruits and vegetables are grown on a contract basis for processors, or commodities where weather doesn’t affect crop extensively, such as potatoes and onions. The app also ignores weather in growing regions that are out of season.
Barton said the app is for buyers, sellers and middlemen.
“If you are a grower, you need to know what is going on in a competitor’s field,” he said.
So far, he said users are most interested in the most perishable commodities, such as berries and leafy greens.
“The more perishable the item, the more response we get,” he said.