Several watermelon farmers in Shandong enjoyed an abundant harvest, but this did not translate into an abundant income. The watermelon price is much lower than in previous years. There are several reasons for this development. Melon production areas in Shandong cultivate melons in greenhouses and in open fields. The vast majority of melons are produced in greenhouses, around 70% of watermelons and around 85% of muskmelons. At this time of year the open-field watermelons gradually enter the market. It is too early to tell how open-field watermelons will do, but the price of greenhouse melons has been lower than in previous years.
Shandong is famous for greenhouse production of all kinds of fruits and vegetables. The greenhouse fruits and vegetables fetch the best price during the period before and after Chinese Spring Festival [25 January, 2020]. Data from various production areas shows that the price of watermelons was already lower than in previous years during Spring Festival. Of course, there are huge differences between production areas. In some areas the price dropped significantly, while in other areas the fluctuation was barely noticeable. By June, however, the watermelon price in some cities had dropped to 0.8 yuan [0.11 USD] per 0.5 kg, which is 50% lower than around the same time last year.
The outbreak of Covid-19 is certainly one of the reasons why the watermelon price is so low this year, but the continuous expansion of surface area devoted to watermelon plantation is definitely an important reason as well. The plantation of watermelons is simple compared to the plantation of cucumbers or tomatoes, and less labor intensive. When farmers have retail channels for watermelons, there is a real prospect of profit. That is why so many farmers switch to watermelons. However, some farmers blindly follow the trend without any market research. As a result, the overall surface area devoted to watermelon plantation rapidly expanded. And when supply exceeds demand, the price drops.