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Smooth conditions in Mexico for quiet watermelon season

Conditions in the Mexican watermelon regions continue to be smooth. The Central Southwest part of the country is hosting the main growing areas for this time of year and weather has not affected any of the crops. 

"Our crops are currently being grown in two places, Colima and Nayarit, both in the Central Southwest of Mexico," said Mikee Suarez of MAS Melons. "Both the conventional seedless as well as the mini watermelons are in production here now until late March. This is when we transition to our northern crops in Hermosillo, Sonora. Weather conditions have been favorable and we have not seen any extreme weather events in the region."

Quiet season
North American demand for watermelons is lower at this time of the year compared to spring/summer months, and growers have moderated volume accordingly. "Volume is much less at this time of year," Suarez explained. "This is by design for two reasons. One is that demand is lower during the northern winter. We also see more competition from other growing regions at this time of year. As a point of comparison, we are currently doing 3 - 4 truckloads a week. In spring and fall, however, we can sometimes do that in a day, when overall production jumps to 12 - 18 loads a week."

Suarez also said the market has been generally favorable. It has fluctuated, however the market is moving with good fruit and demand in the pipeline. "This year, the market has been satisfactory," he said. "It has had its ups and downs but overall it has been solid and growers are making good returns on high quality fruit. The market on the mini watermelons has taken a spike over last year."

Mini watermelons

Freight rates have settled
During the early part of this year, freight rates in both Mexico and the United States skyrocketed, resulting in many growers struggling to meet costs. The effects included economic losses as well as produce being left on the ground or abandoned in warehouses, becoming cost prohibitive to transport to the market. However, rates have since come back down to more normal levels, although still higher than they were before the spike.

"The freight rates became a very big problem," Suarez noted. "One of the main reasons was because of the driver shortage that developed for a number of reasons, including the use of improper driver Visas. Rates to Los Angeles for example, went up to $3,000 - $4,000 during the worst of the crisis. Now they are back down to around $1,400, which is still more than it was prior, when a typical truckload would cost closer to $1,000."

"We were fortunate with the watermelons, as they have a more stable shelf life and there was the option to sit on them," he continued. "This was unlike other commodities like tomatoes that have a color profile to stay in front of. Overall, the situation has settled now and this is beneficial for everyone."

For more information:
Mikee Suarez
Mas Melons
Tel: +1 (520) 377-2372

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