(Sept. 27) California melon shippers forecast an orderly transition from the San Joaquin Valley to the southern desert deals.

But a glut of product late in the northern deal has weakened prices.

For Turlock, Calif.-based Turlock Fruit Co. Inc., the San Joaquin deal should wrap up July 5-10, likely overlapping the beginning of the company’s Yuma, Ariz., deal for a couple of days, said co-owner Steve Smith.

Good weather late in the season spelled good quality for the last batch of northern melons, Smith said. But late plantings meant a lot of product late in the deal, which weakened markets, he said.

Firebaugh, Calif.-based Westside Produce’s San Joaquin deal should wrap up in mid-October, right on schedule, said Jim Malanca, sales manager.

Demand for Westside’s cantaloupes and honeydews was strong into the fourth week of September, Malanca said. But when retailers stopped selling melons on ad, he said, prices went south.

PRICES

On Sept. 26, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $4.35-4.45 for half carton 9s of cantaloupes from the San Joaquin Valley, down from $5.35-5.85 last year at the same time.

Through Sept. 23, 1.47 billion pounds of cantaloupes had shipped nationwide year-to-date, down from 1.63 billion pounds last year at the same time.

Two-thirds carton 5-8s of San Joaquin honeydews were $3-3.50, slightly below last year’s price of $3-4.50. About 334 million pounds of honeydews had shipped year-to-date, down from 362 million pounds last year at the same time.