By Clint Thompson
Watermelon harvests are nearing an end in North Florida. It’s time to take stock of how production went this season as 80% to 90% of the region’s crop has been harvested.
Bob Hochmuth, UF/IFAS Regional Specialized Extension agent in Live Oak, Florida, said farmers were satisfied with how this year transpired.
“Prices really dictate their happiness. For the most part, we had a pretty decent price year,” Hochmuth said. “Yields were good. Price was good.
“I think overall it would be fair to say they all seemed to be satisfied and happy with the way things went.”
Prices a couple of weeks ago were approximately 18 to 20 cents per pound for a 45-count seedless, which equates to about $126 per bin.
High prices were important this year amid a time when input costs were extremely high, specifically with pallets and freight. The pallet shortage led to producers paying double for pallets compared to previous seasons. It’s the same scenario farmers face with freight expenses. Prices have doubled as trucks and drivers are harder to find.
“They needed a high price to make it profitable,” Hochmuth said. “It’s going to be every year significantly more expensive to grow the crop. Therefore, the higher prices, inevitably, have to be that way because it’s not a cheap crop to grow. There’s a lot of inputs. Food safety has made it more difficult as well, more expensive. It’s just not a cheap crop.”