Watermelon importers expect promotable volumes of high-quality fruit this winter.

Nogales, Ariz.-based Al Harrison Co. expects to ship from the Hermosillo, Sonora, region of Mexico through late November or early December, said Brent Harrison, the company’s president.

Harrison reported very good quality and good size from the region the week of Nov. 12.

Movement should slow as Al Harrison Co. makes the transition from Sonora to the Jalisco growing region of Mexico in early December, Harrison said.

Progreso Produce Ltd., Boerne, Texas, expects to shift production from the Sinaloa growing region of Mexico to Jalisco and the Nayarit growing region in the second half of November, said Curtis DeBerry, president and owner.

“The crop looks very good, and as we get deeper into winter we should have better volumes and quality,” DeBerry said.

Grower-shippers report high sugars, good flavor and good appearance on watermelons shipping from Sinaloa in mid-November, though size is on the small side, DeBerry said.

Progreso expects to have highly promotable volumes for December and January promotions.

Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Ayco Farms Inc. expects to receive its first shipment of mini watermelons from Guatemala the week of Nov. 19, said Lou Kertesz, the company’s melon category manager.

The first fruit will likely be smaller than Kertesz would like, but he expects that to change quickly as volumes increase. The company expects similar volumes of mini watermelons as last season.

Weekly volumes in November out of Sonora were normal for Al Harrison Co., but the company expects the Jalisco deal to be smaller than last year, Harrison said.

“A lot of guys are growing sugarcane and other contract commodities,” he said. “Acreage is down.”

What is harvested in Jalisco, however, should be of high quality.

“So far they’ve had ideal growing conditions,” Harrison said.

Volumes out of Jalisco and Nayarit could be up 25% for Progreso this season, thanks to higher yields, DeBerry said.

On Nov. 14, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of 16 to 18 cents per pound for cartons of red flesh seedless 4s, comparable to last year at the same time.

Movement was steady in mid-November, Harrison said, with bin prices in the 16 cents per pound range.

That price would likely hold through November, before climbing into the mid-20s in December, dipping around Christmas and then heading back up in the New Year, Harrison said.

DeBerry expected prices to stay near their mid-November levels through the rest of the year.

In early November, the prospects for strong mini-watermelon markets were good, Kertesz said. But increased volumes from Mexico and a decrease in demand on the East Coast in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy could affect movement.