If the weather warms and the disease situation doesn't worsen, Florida still may have a fair crop this year, he says.
Southern Florida should have watermelons until Memorial Day, the Northern and Central parts of the state should have them until mid-June, and West Florida could have product until the Fourth of July.
Sunny Fresh Watermelons, Vero Beach, started picking watermelons last week, a bit earlier than usual, and the quality looks good, says Scott Dillon, sales executive.
Brix levels of 10, 12 and even 14 were reported, he says.
He expects volume to pick up as more acreage is harvested as the deal moves up to Northern Florida.
Sunny Fresh will have good-sized watermelons from Florida through May and into June and will have melons from other regions, like Georgia, Delaware and Iowa, until September.
Volume at Sunny Fresh should be higher this year than last year.
"We're hard workers," Dillon says.
The Florida Watermelon Association, Immokalee, will work with the Orlando-based National Watermelon Promotion Board on a number of programs, including in-flight TV advertising for Florida watermelons on Continental Airlines, says Paul Sawyer, president of the Florida association.
Florida watermelon queen Kaley Jo Harper will make more than 100 promotional appearances.
This weekend, the queen will be at the Our Kids World Family Fun Festival in West Palm Beach, where she will serve melons to thousands of children, says Debra Harrison, the watermelon association's promotion coordinator.
The association also has planned farm tours, in-store demos, including visits to more than 30 Florida Wal-Mart stores June 28, and other activities. Gov. Charlie Crist has proclaimed June 1-7 Florida Watermelon Week. Harper and Harrison will be at the state capitol June 4 serving watermelon.
(By Tom Burfield, Western correspondent for The Packer. The Packer and Red Book Credit Services are part of food360º, a division of Vance Publishing Corp., Lincolnshire, Ill.)