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Currently, “watermelons are light coming out of Mexico, and it will be like that, I think, for the next month-and-a-half,” said Jesus (Chuy) Lopez, president of Big Chuy Distributors & Sons Inc. in Nogales, AZ, in an interview with The Produce News Jan. 25.

Watermelon acreage in southern Mexico was already down a little going into the winter period this year, Mr. Lopez said. In addition, bad weather adversely affected production in some fields, “so watermelons are going to be light” and prices “will probably remain high” through the entire month of February and into March, when volume is expected to pick up.

102-NWA-BigChuy---Chuy-LopeJesus (Chuy) Lopez Jr.“The spring crop out of northern Mexico looks to be about the same [as last year], from what we are hearing from seed companies, growers and suppliers” in the northern state of Sonora, he said. That is true not only for the industry but for Big Chuy as a company. “Our program … is about the same for this year. We will start back up in April with good volume” and will have “big volume” from late April through May. The Sonora program will continue “all the way through the Fourth of July.”

With an industry volume similar to last year, Mexico will again have “a good share” of the U.S. watermelon market during the spring and early summer months, he said.

In Big Chuy’s own winter program, the company has production out of Nayarit and Jalisco in Mexico. “Basically, seedless is all we have right now,” Mr. Lopez said. When the deal moves north to Sonora, the company will also have mini-seedless watermelons, running from mid- or late March through June.

It is not unusual for watermelon supplies to be light and markets on the high side during January and February, Mr. Lopez said, noting that those are “tough” months to grow melons in Mexico.

“There are only a few growers” who do so, and they don’t get the volumes that can be achieved in other growing areas at other times of the year, so “they get a little better market,” he said.