North Florida watermelons will be in supply later than normal, says Branford, Florida producer Laura Land. Land, who is also a member of the Florida Watermelon Association, says there will be more late-season watermelons this year in North Florida.
“The increase in acreage that I’m seeing here in the North Florida area is pretty much that later crop,” Land said. “They’ve got their early crop like they’ve been having them, about the same acreage. Then they’ve put in 40 to 80 more acres for some later crops.”
Additional acreage in North Florida could challenge South Georgia for the market in mid-summer. Both regions are hoping to duplicate last season’s success, where there were high yields and high prices for farmers.
“Normally we try to be through before (Georgia) ever gets started. Georgia acreage doesn’t seem to have increased a lot. It’s staying pretty level. This (North Florida) area seems to be dropping their time back so that they’re coming in a little later,” Land said. “There seems to be a pretty good acreage. Crops all look very good. It’s acreage that’s scattered in all different ages.
“Looks like from the 15th of May through the 15th of July, they’ll have watermelons here in North Florida.”
Land said farmers in her region normally want to be done before the end of July, but some were still planting as of last week. That followed a freeze during Easter weekend that killed some watermelon plants. Farmers were forced to replant.
“I think maybe acreage in the north Florida area has gone up a little bit but considerably little. It’s pretty much the same people that’s been growing watermelons, may have added 40 more acres,” Land said. “It could just be how their land worked out. Everybody in the watermelon business knows that no two years are ever the same. There’s a new challenge every year.”
Land said prices are around 30 cents per pound right now with not a lot of availability. Watermelons are available mainly just in the South Florida area, around Immokalee. Land said producers in the Lake Placid, Arcadia regions should start harvesting this week or at least by the first of May.