Texas melons exceptionally sweet, down in yields

Excess moisture and no rainfall caused the increased sweetness in cantaloupes.

TEXAS, USA — Recently harvested watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew presented high levels of sweetness and sugar content amid lower yields, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Services reported.

Cantaloupe producers said a surplus of moisture and absence of rainfall are causes of the increased sweetness, which is measured through a value called Brix.  

Despite good quality, weather has negatively impacted many melons. Juan Anciso, an AgriLife Extension horticulturist in Weslaco, Texas, said there have been cases where cosmetic problems from harsh weather conditions – such as hailstorms – made about half of honeydew fields unfit for sale.

“There has been a flood of melons with these flaws on street corners and fruit stands, but they really don’t make up for the losses when you are talking 18-wheelers full of melons that are considered culls,” Anciso said in a statement. “Otherwise, growers in the Valley were looking at a heck of a season.”

Hot, dry and windy conditions are largely to blame for lower melon yields. High winds damage vine growth and cause tangles between vines.

“The heat and wind have been hard on melons this year,” Larry Stein, an AgriLife Extension horticulturist in Uvalde, Texas, said in a statement. “The wind has been beating everything up, and it complicates pollination. I think producers will hit the Fourth of July window, and the bottom line is that quality is exceptional despite the difficulties.”

Producers have faced not only lower yields but decreased chances to realize profits. This is due to factors such as flat prices and increased shipping, fuel and fertilizer costs.

“Farms are getting 16 cents, 18 cents per pound when we’d like to see them getting 20-plus cents per pound,” Anciso said. “But growers are concerned about the high costs this season. The good yields should help offset costs for some but it will be difficult to make money, and it’s not related to the supply and demand of their crop.”

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