By Clint Thompson
North Florida watermelons and South Georgia watermelons are likely on a collision course for the Southeast market this summer. Weather is the main reason why.
Producers in the Suwanee Valley Region in North Florida have started harvesting this year’s crop. But many of their fields were impacted by a scattered frost late in the season. Production was not wiped out, just delayed some, according to Josh Freeman, University of Florida/IFAS Associate Professor in Horticultural Science.
As a result, North Florida production could hit the market at the same time as South Georgia.
“They saw some fields where I don’t know if anybody really lost anything, but they certainly had some fields that were set back. I think their season will be a little more staggered, which I know nobody in South Georgia wants to hear that,” Freeman said. “Those two markets always seem to bleed into each other anyway. I think that may be a little more prevalent this year. They have plants that were set back a week to 10 days. None of them really got killed, but it just kind of burned some foliage off. They had to regenerate and start back over.”
“It can be good for markets because you don’t have this sudden glut and you’ve got this kind of staggering. But it also bleeds our markets into northern markets. You’re talking about South Georgia up into Crisp County bleeding into South Carolina and eastern North Carolina. It’s hard to say what it’ll mean,” Freeman said.
Freeman said on Thursday that seedless watermelons were selling between $126-$140 a bin or 18 cents to 20 cents per pound.