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Large watermelons still preferred over mini’s due to higher brix level

“Our watermelon season runs from mid-March through September,” says Scott McDulin with Schmieding Produce. Typically, the season starts with imports from Mexico and moves to Florida in April. Around mid to late June, harvest moves up to Georgia. Schmieding grows watermelons in Florida, but works with and provides resources to growers in other states (see map below).

Slow start
This year’s watermelon season was off to a slow start, both from a production and demand perspective. “Out of Mexico, the quality was hit or miss due to weather related events,” said McDulin. Florida yields weren’t as expected either because of issues with whitefly and other growing issues. “As our production moved north from Immokalee, FL up, yields and supplies have improved, but are still off a little.” Demand is improving and will peak right now through the summer. All in all, prices have held pretty steady.

Mini watermelons lack sweetness
In the past two years, McDulin has noticed an increase in requests for mini or personal watermelons. “As demand continues to increase, we will strongly look at adding these at some point. However, the seed breeders haven’t been able to perfect the brix level as they have with large watermelons. The lack of sweetness and limited supply is holding back demand,” McDulin added. In order of popularity, Schmieding’s customers prefer: 1. 45 ct. seedless, 2. 35 ct. seeded and 3. 60 ct. seedless. “In certain areas of the country, seeded is still very popular as the brix level on seeded watermelons tends to be higher.”

Doug Dickerson shows a 35 ct. seeded watermelon

Fresh-cut industry drives varieties
At the moment, Schmieding’s two most popular watermelon varieties are Fascination and Captivation. Fascination is very uniform and known for its red and firm flesh. On the outside, the dark green rind has a rich, glossy color. “The Captivation variety has a firm texture and an attractive red flesh. It also works well with 45 ct., but matures 4-5 days later than Fascination. “With their red and firm flesh, both varieties are very suitable for fresh-cut processing, an industry that continues to grow,” mentioned McDulin. “Fascination and Captivation are proven winners. We usually wait for more data to be available until we start growing new varieties, but will continue to look at sweet mini varieties to grow in the future.”

Scott McDulin holds a 45ct. seedless watermelon

For more information:
Scott McDulin
Schmieding Produce LLC
Cell: 561-319-3095

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