Here’s What Happened: North Florida Watermelon Season Recap

Clint ThompsonFlorida, Watermelon

By Clint Thompson

Georgia’s delayed start to the watermelon season was North Florida’s gain for a second year in a row.

Bob Hochmuth, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Regional Specialized Extension agent in Live Oak, Florida, confirmed last week that some of his growers were still picking over fields, mostly because Georgia volume had not peaked yet.

“I do think things continued on a little bit more last week than maybe otherwise would have been, maybe because things are generally a little late getting started, volume wise, up in Georgia,” Hochmuth said. “That has done something similar to last year. It has extended some of these fields where they still have good health, good size to the fruit. They’re able to still go across them another time or two until the volume gets started up in Georgia which I think was due shortly, if it hasn’t started by now.”

Additional Acreage

Hochmuth said there were about 1,500 additional acres planted this year in North Florida following last year’s bumper crop and high prices. However, fusarium wilt disease had a major impact on this year’s crop. Growers did not experience a market where supply significantly outweighed demand.

“I had a conversation with a farmer that has a pretty good reach of the area, and he and I are in agreement that, even though there were 1,500 acres more, fusarium took a bite out of that. Even though there were 1,500 acres more that were planted, it wasn’t exactly like there were 1,500 acres more on the marketplace, because fusarium had a major impact,” Hochmuth said. “That additional acreage didn’t end up with 1,500 acres worth of trucks leaving this region because of the fusarium.

“(The season) does seem like it goes fast, but in reality, we’ve been at it for about four weeks which is pretty typical of the season. Overall, that’s about normal.”