After a frustrating 2021, it appears that watermelon producers are having a successful season this year. VP of Crops and Soils at Van Groningen & Sons Incorporated, Bryan Van Groningen said the past three years have been a “big roller coaster.” But conditions this year seem similar to 2020 when demand and prices were strong.
“The watermelon season was a pretty good season overall,” said Van Groningen. “This is actually one of the years where the price and market demand and everything has been good. Also, the quality, production, and yields have been good. So, it’s been generally a good watermelon year for us.”
Despite the most recent heatwave, the weather has been fairly mild for much of the production season. Van Groningen said that frost events in April pushed back some of the maturity dates for their earlier fields, but that leveled out in May. Growing conditions in the Manteca area have allowed their watermelons to thrive, with harvest beginning in early June. “If we keep our fields in good shape, we’ll be harvesting the same field that we were in June, we’ll be harvesting all the way into September. So, we’re in a good area,” Van Groningen noted.
Last year, watermelon producers were struggling with an oversupply and a lull in demand. Van Groningen said that it was one of the worst years they have seen for prices. The summer of 2020 saw an increase in demand, which prompted an increase in production the following year. “The acreage increased but I don’t think the demand was quite what 2020 was. So, you had those two things working against each other and it was just an awful, awful 2021 year,” Van Groningen explained.
The disappointing 2021 season caused many growers to opt to cut back on their production. Now with the reduction of acreage, market conditions have become a bit more advantageous for producers. “There’s fairly decent demand, probably to where it’s normally been. But now the supply and overall production is down quite a bit and there’s just not enough watermelons on the market,” said Van Groningen.