Importers look forward to steady demand for high-quality product as the Mexican watermelon season ramps up.

Nogales, Ariz.-based Al Harrison Co. dodged a bullet in October when tropical storms missed the Hermosillo, Mexico, growing region, said Brent Harrison, president.

“We’ve had ideal weather,” Harrison said Oct. 22. “We’re picking up steam — by next week we should be going fairly well.”

Edinburg, Texas-based Bagley Produce Co. expects to source watermelons from south Texas into the first week or two of November before shifting production to Mexico, said Jeff Fawcett, the company’s sales manager.

“In the early stages, everything looks really good,” Fawcett said of early Mexican production.

That’s a typical end to the Texas deal for Bagley Produce and a typical start for Mexico, Fawcett said.

“On paper, (the transition) is as smooth as can be,” Fawcett said, adding that Mother Nature could throw importers a curve ball before production ramps up in Mexico.

Harrison reported a smooth transition from domestic deals to Mexico.

“We were out just one week. We couldn’t have timed it much better.”

By the week of Oct. 21, most domestic deals (other than Florida) were winding down, paving the way for strong demand for Mexican product.

“Demand has been pretty good, and we feel like we’ll continue to enjoy a good market,” Harrison said.

On Oct. 22, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of 22 to 24 cents per pound for type 4 red flesh seedless watermelons from Mexico, comparable to last year at the same time.

Fawcett expected prices to remain steady through the rest of 2013.

Bagley Produce expects acreage to be similar this year out of Mexico, though volumes could be up.

“Our goal is better yields to the acre,” Fawcett said.

Al Harrison expects to ship from Hermosillo into early December, though volumes will begin to taper off in mid-November, Harrison said.

McAllen, Texas-based Majestic Produce Co. expects to kick off its Mexican deal the first week of December, said Ward Thomas, owner.

Majestic wrapped up its domestic deals with a flourish in October.

“The end was great, there was plenty of demand,” Thomas said.

Majestic expects to ship out of Mexico through about the first week of May.