Carolina peach, watermelon production begins late

07/23/2013 04:45:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

FAIRFAX, S.C. — Though southern South Carolina growers are finishing peach and watermelon harvests, peaches in the state’s central region and North Carolina watermelon are still under way.

South Carolina peachesDoug OhlemeierWorkers grade red globe variety peaches at Chappell Farms in Barnwell, S.C., in late July. Southern South Carolina growers are finishing production of peaches and watermelon while growers are still harvesting peaches in the state’s central region and North Carolina watermelon. Because of unfavorable weather, peak volumes started later than normal and shippers say they expect South Carolina peach and North Carolina watermelon production to continue through Labor Day.


In late July, McLeod Farms Inc., McBee, S.C., and Titan Farms, Ridge Spring, S.C., were entering normal peach packing volume, said Benjie Richter, a partner at Richter and Company Inc., Charlotte, N.C. Richter markets peaches for the South Carolina peach growers.

Richter said he expects the central region to produce strong volume through early August while shipping steady volume into September.

Georgia production is decreasing, while New Jersey’s light early season production wasn’t placing much competition in the marketplace.

“We are having a high-quality season,” Richter said July 22. “Volume is normalizing and the varieties are catching up. We’ve had a lot of rain but have been able to deal with it.”

In late July, Chappell Farms in Barnwell, S.C., was finishing peach harvesting.

“We are very pleased with the season,” Lynn Chappell, commercial sales, said in late July. “We have had good sizings and excellent quality because we’ve received enough chilling hours and enough rain as opposed to last year.”

In late July, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported these prices for 1/2-bushel cartons of various yellow-flesh varieties from South Carolina: 3-inches and larger and 2 ¾-inch and larger, $10.65-12.65; 2 1/2 inch and bigger, $8.65.


An abnormally wet growing season made for difficult watermelon harvesting for Coosaw Farms, Fairfax, S.C.

The grower-shipper planned to finish harvesting by July 30.

“This has been a long, wet season,” Bradley O’Neal, owner, said in late July. ”Quality has just been fair. The cloudy days haven’t helped with pollination. We’re getting normal sizings but less yields. Watching quality is taking triple the effort and we’re having to leave some fruit in the fields.”

O’Neal characterized watermelon markets as steady, quoting 16-cents a pound on seedless.

In late July, Matt Solana, vice president of operations and supply chain management for Jackson’s Farming Co., Autryville, N.C., said the market was improving from 12-14 cents a pound after July 4 to 17-18 cents a pound in late July after Georgia began finishing production.

“Though we started in our normal timeframe on June 25, we’re just now getting into volume,” he said July 23. “We have better quality now that we’re through with the first plantings. Quality is looking good even with the rainy weather we’ve been having.”

Solana said Jackson’s plans to ship promotable volume through mid- to late August and expects steady shipments to run through September.

He said Delmarva growers began production July 22 and said Indiana and Missouri growers had started.

In late July, the USDA reported these per-pound prices for 24-inch bins of red flesh seedless watermelon from South Carolina: 16 cents for 36s and 60s and 16-17 cents for 45s.

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