Importers reported excellent quality and brisk movement of Central American cantaloupes and honeydews and Mexican honeydews.

Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Ayco Farms Inc. began importing cantaloupes from Guatemala in the first week of November, with honeydews following the week of Nov. 19, said Lou Kertesz, the company’s melon category manager.

Both starts are about on time for Ayco’s Central American melon deal. Shipments from Guatemala should continue into about the second week of January for Ayco, Kertesz said.

Ayco also began importing honeydews from Mexico the week of Nov. 12.

With the beginning of the offshore deals, prices were coming down in November, Kertesz said.

“It’s a more reasonable market now,” he said.

He expected them to stabilize in the $10-12 range, where they should remain for some time.

On Nov. 20, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $11.95-12.95 for half cartons of cantaloupe 9s and 12s from Guatemala.

Cantaloupe sizing started out very big, but was already starting to decrease by mid-November, with fruit peaking on 9s and 12s, Kertesz said.

The first honeydews from Guatemala also were on the big side, Kertesz said, with fruit peaking on 5s and 6s. Mexican honeydew sizing at the beginning of the deal, meanwhile, was bigger than Kertesz said he liked to see.

Kertesz reported high sugar levels and overall outstanding quality of fruit shipping in mid-November.

While industry-wide volumes won’t likely be up this season, Ayco expects to increase its melon program by about 28%, Kertesz said. Since Kertesz joined the company in September, Ayco has made a commitment to shipping melons year-round.

The company is supplementing its offshore and Mexican imports with spring and fall volumes from Arizona and summer volumes from California, Kertesz said.

Fresno, Calif.-based Crown Jewels Produce Co. expects to wind down a successful Mexican honeydew season early December, said Atomic Torosian, partner.

Prices could have been a little higher, Torosian said, but movement has been brisk and quality as good as the company has ever seen out of Mexico.

Crown Jewels expects to get back into the Mexican honeydew deal in a significant way in late February or March, Torosian said.