Shaping Up: North Florida Melon Harvests Less Than Two Weeks Away

Clint ThompsonFlorida, Watermelon

By Clint Thompson

North Florida watermelon producers are less than two weeks away from harvesting this year’s crop. For some growers, it may be even sooner than that, believes Bob Hochmuth, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Regional Specialized Extension agent in Live Oak, Florida.

“There’s lots of volleyball size watermelons out there. The crop is coming along very nicely. I would say in talking with the farmers that are beginning to see the beginning of the harvest period that I’m hearing around the (May) 15,” Hochmuth said. “It’s possible that there might be some that are a day or two before that, but I think for all practical purposes, it looks somewhere around the 15th. I believe that’s a pretty good estimate based on what I’m seeing.”

Bob Hochmuth

Fruit is progressing, due mostly to a lack of widespread disease pressure. Hochmuth said that despite scattered reports of gummy stem blight early in the season, the “disease situation has been relatively quiet.” Weather conditions have contributed to diseases like powdery mildew or downy mildew not developing like producers are accustomed to seeing.

“Normally by now, we have at least seen powdery show up. Downy is more of a hit or miss. Some years we get by without much of a problem with that,” Hochmuth said. “Everything has been eerily quiet on the disease side. The weather that we have had has been low humidity. We have had occasional rains down here, but I think for the most part, the weather pattern that we have had has not been all that conducive to disease development over the past couple of weeks.

“I always seem to harp on the disease side because that’s the thing that is very intense. Once something happens, they’ve got to get on it. A lot of times I might over speak about the disease.”