‘Most Stressful and Most Challenging’ Watermelon Season

Brian GermanFruits & Vegetables, Industry, Melons

Watermelon season has been a tough one this year after a late start due to the weather. VP of Crops and Soils at Van Groningen & Sons Incorporated, Bryan Van Groningen said their planting was delayed about three weeks back in Spring. Plantings usually go in around the middle of March, but this year the earliest plantings did not start until the first week of April.

Watermelon Season

“At one time we had almost one million transplants sitting in greenhouses in the last couple weeks of March that were ready to be planted and we had no place to plant them because the fields were too wet,” Van Groningen. “Some of our production might be a result of that because some of the plants were a little bit older. We lost some of the transplants that didn’t survive because they were a little too mature and the fields were not in top condition to be planted.”

Marketing watermelons under the Yosemite Fresh label, Van Groningen said the tight timeline made for long and stressful days. They planted the same amount of acreage in a condensed amount of time. “Personally, speaking for me and our farm, this is probably the most stressful and most challenging planting and growing season that I can remember,” said Van Groningen.

Minor fruit quality issues became apparent earlier in the season, though nothing major. Van Groningen said maybe about five percent of the melons had some issues, but things looked more positive towards the end of July. With losing between two and three weeks of production, Van Groningen said it impacted yields by as much as 20 percent. However, there has been some good news for the watermelon season.

“It’s been rough as far as yield goes, losing those extra weeks, plus the early fields being less productive,” Van Groningen explained. “Fortunately, the market price right now is good. We’re probably seeing about a 20 percent price bump. So those things are close to equaling each other out at this point. But it will be hard to say as we move forward.”

Brian German
Ag News Director / AgNet West