News Filed Under Watermelon Cantaloupe and Cucumber
Some Mississippi watermelon producers lost crops or got a late start because of wet spring weather. But consumers should find the sweet, summer treats on shelves in time for the July 4 holiday.
Choosing a ripe watermelon at the market is easy if you know what to look for. (Photo credit: Jonathan Parrish/Cindy Callahan)
LUCEDALE, Miss. -- Mississippi watermelon growers battled frequent rains to get their crops planted and ready in time for the Fourth of July and other summer celebrations.
David Nagel, horticulture specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said most of the crop is smaller and later than normal.
“If the sun doesn’t shine, the leaves don’t make sugar, plants don’t grow and we have smaller watermelons,” Nagel said. “Recent sunny days are allowing some of the crop to catch up. Melons may still be small, but they will be sweet and firm, or crisp.”
JACKSON – Party planners may have a hard time finding Mississippi-grown watermelons and blueberries for July 4th celebrations this year.
Unfavorable weather slowed maturity and increased disease pressure for both crops. Much of the state’s blueberry crop is grown in south Mississippi, and most of its watermelons are grown in the southeast quarter of the state. Acreage for both crops remains steady. Blueberry producers grow about 2,700 acres, and watermelon growers have about 2,400 acres.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Mississippians love Fourth of July watermelons, and the 2013 melon crop should be worth the wait after weather delays.
David Nagel, horticulturist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the biggest challenge has been the slow growth rate that caused some concern that the first melons might miss the holiday celebrations. The good news is that clear, sunny days with plenty of rain along the way have combined to produce large, tasty melons.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – As summer temperatures soar into the triple digits, Mississippi’s sweet watermelon crop is satisfying both growers and consumers.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Mississippi’s sunny skies are producing sweet watermelons and blueberries just in time for Fourth of July tables.
David Nagel, horticulturist with Mississippi State University’s Extension Service, said most of the state’s fruit crops saw very little rain as they approached maturity. Fortunately, many of Mississippi’s commercial watermelon and blueberry plots have irrigation and plastic mulch to help protect plants from droughts.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Good growing conditions are contributing to a bumper crop of tasty watermelons for Mississippians.
David Nagel, a Mississippi State University Extension Service horticulturist, said rains and cool temperatures delayed plantings but warm temperatures later contributed to rapid development. Harvests began in mid-June and peak each year around the Fourth of July.
“We’ve had plenty of warm temperatures and sunshine to produce large and sweet watermelons this year,” Nagel said. “The more sunny days we have, the sweeter the melons.”
By Patti Drapala
MSU Ag Communications
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- April's cold snap may have slowed watermelon production in Mississippi, but growers are still in great shape to cash in on the Fourth of July.
David Nagel, horticulture specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the late spring frost damaged some transplants in the ground at the start of the season. Farmers worked hard to replant those fields and stay on schedule.
“We are seeing watermelons of good quality and size now that harvesting has begun,” Nagel said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- This year's watermelons relied on Mother Nature for the sunny skies to make them sweet, but most needed farmers to supply the essential irrigation to make them juicy.
Wayne Porter, area horticulture agent for Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said watermelon harvesting has begun in southern counties. Porter is based in Lauderdale County and also serves Smith County, Mississippi's top watermelon-producing county.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's commercial watermelon producers enjoyed an early start for their crop, but now nonirrigated melons are reaching a critical need for water to finish maturing in time for the
Fourth of July.
Smith County Extension director Charles Waldrup said watermelons had excellent conditions early in the season, but they are facing an urgent need for water. This year's melons should be very sweet because of the growing conditions.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Researchers at Mississippi State University are betting that one day state producers will want to grow seedless watermelons, and when they do, MSU will be ready to help them grow the best ones possible.
By Jeanie Davidson
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The quality and quantity of Mississippi's melon crop this year may have depended in part on growers' use of irrigation.
Many growers in Greene County, one of the state's leaders in fruit production, use irrigation and black plasti-culture to produce melons. These costly and time-consuming techniques help prevent sunburned or misshapen melons and accelerate harvest by about two weeks, but growers need higher sale prices to offset the expense.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi watermelon growers may be frustrated with the drought that caused low numbers, but consumers are enjoying a sweeter taste from the 1998 crop.
Dr. David Nagel, horticulture specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said the sunny days without rain resulted in smaller melons with more sugar.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Supplies of fresh Mississippi-grown watermelons, a traditional July Fourth treat, were lower than normal this year as uncooperative weather early in the growing season pushed harvest dates back.
A late spring freeze caused many of Mississippi's watermelon producers to harvest closer than normal to the Fourth of July with some fields missing the holiday demand altogether.
For the best prices, growers aim for harvest to begin around the middle of June and climaxing before July 4.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Watermelon growers are licking their lips over the high prices melons are selling for during the busiest consumer week of the season. Unfortunately, a shortage of seeds for planting reduced acreage and has decreased harvest supplies.
Dr. David Nagel, extension horticulturist at Mississippi State University, said watermelon acreage is down from 9,600 acres in 1994 to about 8,500 this year statewide.