Ongoing crises, the consequences of climate change and the focus on autumn crops, are shaping the current melon season, as Lutz Krasemann, Managing Director of Fruchthansa GmbH, tells us.
"It is becoming apparent that a decline in acreage for watermelons and sugar melons of around 10 to 15 percent is to be expected this season. Due to the late start of the season in the Netherlands for peppers, eggplants and cucumbers, the harvest period for these products was extended in Almería to avoid undersupply of the market and also to benefit from increased prices. However, this resulted in the land for melon cultivation not being available in time, delaying the melon harvest. We hope that the current better weather conditions will increase the output of production and thus compensate for the decrease in the area under cultivation."
Photo: Fruchthansa GmbH
Good demand expected
So far, the cold weather in northern Europe has ensured low demand for overseas watermelons. "Melons are very dependent on the weather compared to other products. However, the weather outlook is now much better and we expect sales to pick up. Overall, overseas watermelon availability is tight and coming to an end. Prices are currently at 26 euros per crate," Krasemann said.
Significant drop in Galia and cantaloupe melons
Farmers have also decided to postpone or even completely abandon the cost-intensive cultivation of sugar melons, he said, particularly due to poor yields last season and the current cost situation.
The company sources watermelons from Spanish provinces such as Cadiz, Almeria, Murcia and La Mancha, as well as other partners in Italy. "Italy is also an important country for us, where watermelons are grown in some regions from south to north, starting in Sicily and going up to Emilia-Romagna and Lombardy."
At the point of sale, mini watermelons are a staple, "these are especially in demand by small households," Krasemann knows. "New tasty varieties are coming into use, which tends to boost demand. Seedless melons are also trending, with a wide range of varieties available." The melons are marketed by Fruchthansa primarily in Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Poland.
Photo: Fruchthansa GmbH
Reducing water availability
"Spain is one of the countries in the EU that is already strongly affected by climate change, which is reflected, among other things, in a noticeable reduction in water availability," he states. "Heavy restrictions from the government are also leading to limitations in cultivation. As a result, farmers are forced to rely more on precision farming technologies to increase productivity and reduce water consumption. These include measures such as monitoring soil water using sensors, placing covers on catch basins, and covering irrigation ponds or reducing the use of inputs."
Advanced technologies can help producers operate more efficiently and make their farming practices more sustainable, Krasemann says. "This includes targeted application of fertilizers and pesticides using sensors to accurately determine crop nutrient needs. Increasing the use of precision agriculture technologies is a significant step toward meeting the challenges of modern agriculture, such as water management and environmental protection."
"Fruchthansa is all about working in partnership with growers, who are supported through firm program agreements and support in cultivation and all certification processes."