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Crown Jewels expects good volume of cantaloupes and dews throughout Westside deal

“We are looking forward to a good season on melons” for the Westside deal this year, Atomic Torosian, a partner in Crown Jewels Produce LLC in Fresno, CA, said in an interview with The Produce News. He expected to have good volume in cantaloupes all the way through the deal, “with honeydews to match,” which will be good for promotions throughout the season.

Crown Jewels handles the sales and marketing of melons from Perez Packing Inc. in Firebaugh, CA, which packs in the “King Crow” label. The Perez family has been growing melons on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley for around 75 years.

“The ‘King Crow’ deal is something we, as a company, really look forward to selling every year,” Torosian said. Shipping generally starts the last days of June and continues into early or mid-October.

Part of the company’s substantial melon acreage is in the Huron district “which a lot of people don’t have anymore,” he said. “Then we move up to the Firebaugh-Mendota area,” then on up to Dos Palos and Los Banos, “and then Crows Landing as it gets later in the season. It starts south and moves north.”

Staggered planting dates, as well as different districts, allows the crop “to come off consistently all the way through,” he said.

Crown Jewels also has spring and fall melon programs out of Sonora, Mexico. “We had an extremely active watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe deal out of Mexico this year,” Torosian said, referencing the 2014 spring season. “Prices were very good compared to other years and finished on a real high note.”

That deal had just finished, he said May 30. “Today was our last day on watermelons, and we finished honeydews about a week ago and cantaloupes about a week-and-a-half to two weeks ago.”

The active markets in the Mexican melon deal “led into a real active desert deal” in Arizona and Southern California, Torosian said. “We don’t have a [desert] deal at the moment, but the prices are very active.” Cantaloupes were as high as $12.95 on 9s and $10.95 on 12s. “So movement and demand out of the desert is very strong at the moment, and I think it will continue to be so.”

Honeydew prices out of the desert were $8 to $9, “which is very strong as well,” he said.

“It will lead right into our Westside deal,” which is expected to be earlier than usual, Torosian said. In fact, it could be “one of the earliest, if not the all-time earliest, starting dates out of California for us. We are anticipating starting around June 25 through June 29” out of the Huron district.