Watermelon Acres Down Across North Florida

Web AdminFlorida, Watermelon

By Clint Thompson

Watermelon plants are in the ground across the Suwanee Valley region of Florida. Bob Hochmuth, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) regional specialized Extension agent in Live Oak, Florida, expects there to be a decrease in acres this year across the northern part of the state.

North Florida watermelon acres
Rows of watermelon in North Florida, trees, leaves. UF/IFAS Photo: Thomas Wright.

“I would say we might be down a little bit, and I’m going to say that probably represents around 7,500 acres. That would be for sure a guesstimate,” said Hochmuth, who also estimated that there is usually around 8,000 acres planted every year. A couple of factors led to reduced acres this season.

“I would attribute it to last year not being a very favorable year price wise, especially later in the season. Those growers that were not able to get an early jump start on it and had most of their acreage harvested later in the season after the price dropped, it was not as favorable of a year for them given that the cost of everything was so much higher; whereas in the past they may have been able to withstand that kind of a thing,” Hochmuth said. “I think some of them were not able to deal with the lower prices towards the end of the season last year for the watermelons and the higher overall costs for everything.”

Those that did plant this year did so at a much earlier timeframe. Hochmuth said more than 50% of acres were planted by March 1.

“There was a lot more acreage planted before March 1 than normal. If they had plants ready and it was 80-something degrees, it was hard for them not to go ahead and get on with it,” Hochmuth said. “We certainly had 400- and 500-acre growers that were done planting by March 1.”