(Aug. 1, 2:44 p.m.) Despite some potential sourcing challenges, grower-shippers expect promotable supplies of Labor Day favorites this holiday.

Smaller-than-usual volumes are coming from the Midwest and California and on the East Coast this summer, but supplies of watermelons should be adequate for the holiday, said Curtis DeBerry, owner of Progreso Produce Ltd., Boerne, Texas.

“We should see a good supply, but not an oversupply,” he said. “There will be enough fruit for ads.”

Ad prices on watermelons, however, will be probably be higher than usual, DeBerry said. He predicted melons sold for Labor Day, Sept. 1, would cost 16 or 17 cents per pound, about 20% more than normal for that time of year.

On July 29, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of 18 cents per pound for red-flesh seedless watermelons from Texas and Oklahoma, up from 10 cents per pound last year at the same time.

Progreso will be sourcing from West Texas, the Carolinas and Oregon for Labor Day, DeBerry said.

He said quality should be excellent. Progreso packs melons in Disney-branded bins and uses Disney stickers on fruit for holiday promotions, he said.

Sweet corn

Sweet corn growers in New York weren’t hit as hard by summer hailstorms as growers of other Empire State crops were, but corn supplies could be slightly down for Labor Day, said John Gill, owner of Gill Corn Farms Inc., Hurley, N.Y.

Gill Corn Farms didn’t suffer any hail damage, Gill said, and the company should have promotable supplies of yellow, white and bi-color corn for the holiday.

Demand at the end of July was very good, and if the past is any indication, it should be very strong for Labor Day, Gill said.

“In the past, demand has far exceeded supply,” he said. “People can’t get enough sweet corn.”

On July 29, the USDA reported prices of $14-14.20 for wirebound crates of 4 dozen yellow from New York, up from $6.20 last year at the same time.

Gill reported “excellent” quality on sweet corn at the end of July.

Apples and pears

Cool spring weather pushed back the start of apple and pear deals in Washington by a week or more, but there should still be enough galas and bartletts for Labor Day promotions, said Roger Pepperl, marketing director for Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt Growers Inc.

“They’re a little behind, but I think we’ll be alright,” he said.

The week around Labor Day traditionally is not a great one for produce, Pepperl said. But apples and pears fare better than other items because they’re the new fruits on the block.

Stemilt also plans a big sliced-apple push around Labor Day for back-to-school promotions, Pepperl said.

On July 29, the USDA reported prices of $27-28 for 40-pound cartons of bartletts 80s from California, up from $16-17 last year at the same time.


Stemilt also will have white and yellow peaches and nectarines at their peak for holiday sales, Pepperl said.

On July 29, the USDA reported prices of $9.05-10.05 for two-layer tray packs of yellow-flesh peaches 40-42s from California, down from $10.95-13.95 last year at the same time.