Texas melons are exceptionally sweet this year, but there aren’t as many

Good news for fruit foodies — Texas melons are “exceptionally sweet” this year.

“Texas cantaloupe sweetness is expected to be outstanding, but yields are expected to be slightly below average due to tough weather conditions,” according to a report from Texas A&M Agrilife Extension.

Horticulturist Juan Anciso said despite the above-average yields and good quality, high temperatures around the state are impacting new growth.

“The first cutting was heavy, and there is no new fruit coming on,” Anciso said. “The plants seem to be shutting down.”

Extreme heat coupled with a lack of rainfall has also contributed to a slightly below-average yield for watermelon and cantaloupe.

The measurement for sugar content and sweetness, also known as a Brix count, have been exceptionally high for Texas melons.

“The heat and wind have been hard on melons this year,” said AgriLife Extension horticulture specialist Larry Stein.

He doesn’t think melon producers will have a hard time hitting the Fourth of July window, however.

Watermelon growers are looking to meet peak seasonal demand ahead of the Fourth of July holiday as production of the melons comes to a close.

“The bottom line is that quality is exceptional despite the difficulties,” Stein said.

For melons like honeydew, Texas farmers have had to deal with hailstorms this growing season that have caused issues with aesthetics. Melons with “nicks” aren’t marketable to grocers.

Roughly 50% of honeydew fields were considered unmarketable — accounting for thousands of pounds of melons.

“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. Otherwise, growers in the Valley were looking at a heck of a season,” said Anciso.

Stein and Anciso agreed that growers were likely not going to realize profits from their sweeter melons due to flat prices and higher input and logistical 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.”

Stein noted that costs have doubled for most producers and tripled for some. He said, in some cases, growers will likely break even.

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