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Turlock Fruit’s 2014 Westside melon program is similar to past years

“Everything is pretty much the same” as it has been in recent years for the Westside melon program for the 2014 season at Turlock Fruit Co. Inc. in Turlock, CA, according to Steve Smith, an owner and officer in the company. Turlock Fruit has the same mix of products with about the same acreage as in the past, he said.

The company grows cantaloupes and honeydew melons as well as seven varieties of mixed or specialty melons: Casaba, Juan Canary, orange-flesh honeydew, Santa Clause (also called Piel de Sapo), Crenshaw, Hami and Galia.

The honeydew melons are shipped under the “King of the West” and “Sycamore” labels. The cantaloupes and mixed melons are shipped in the “Peacock” label.

“We constantly experiment with new and improved varieties” but are not introducing any new varieties commercially at this point, he said.

Growing conditions this year have been ideal, Smith told The Produce News. “It has been warmer than normal, which is good for melons, particularly on the early side.” Because of that, “we think we will be possibly up to a week earlier than we normally would be” out of the Huron and Firebaugh districts. That “should give us cantaloupes the last week in June and honeydews the first week of July.”

The mixed melons will “follow closely behind that,” he said.

Smith expects to ship from the first of July through about the middle of October on honeydew melons and cantaloupes. The mixed melons will probably go to about the middle of September.

The fourth-generation company has been shipping melons from California’s San Joaquin Valley since 1918. Smith represents the third generation, and his father, Don Smith, the company president, whose father, Jim (Cantaloupe) Smith started the operation nearly a century ago, has been involved in the growing and marketing of melons for over 60 years.

On sales currently are Don Smith, Greg Cooper, Dan Kerrigan and “my son-in-law, Neill Callas,” Smith said. “This will be his second year.” Smith’s son, Alec, representing the fourth generation, is involved in field operations.