TRENTON, Fla. — As northern Florida remains the only major U.S. watermelon growing region producing volume, grower-shippers are enjoying higher prices.

Grower-shippers from north Florida’s production region, which stretches from Wildwood on the south end to Live Oak on the north, were packing watermelon in volume June 11.

Billy Smith, owner of Billy Smith’s Watermelons Inc., Trenton, said prices had risen to 16 cents a pound for seeded and 18 cents a pound for seedless the week of June 8 from 10 cents to 12 cents a pound respectively from the previous week.

“We are setting on top of a bubble,” Smith said June 10. “We, as farmers, don’t get this opportunity too often.”

North Florida watermelon production going strong
Doug Ohlemeier

Workers pack watermelon at Billy Smith’s Watermelons Inc., Trenton, Fla.

Smith attributed the higher prices to south Florida ending its melon harvest and a later than normal start of the Georgia deal.

Though northern Florida usually finishes pickings by early to mid-June, Smith said he expects to pack melons through June 20, as heavy May rains and overcast skies prevented proper melon growth.

Jesse Arrigo, a salesman for Immokalee-based Southern Corporate Packers Inc.’s Trenton operation, called quality excellent on June 11.

“It’s gorgeous fruit that’s bricking above 12-13. You’d better have a shot of insulin as the brix is so high.”

Arrigo said Southern Corporate Packers plans to pack watermelons from Trenton through June 20 before switching to Cordele, Ga., production.