(April 26) L&M Cos. Inc., Raleigh, N.C., will handle marketing for the Bogue Sound Watermelon Growers Association Inc., Newport, N.C., this year.

A group of 19 North Carolina growers representing 200 acres formed the cooperative in 2005. Bobby Creel, director of business development for L&M, said melons have to be grown on land that drains into Bogue Sound to be included in the program.

“It’s a very popular melon,” Creel said. “Steamships used to haul these things up to New York and New Jersey. It’s kind of a famous melon. People who come to the beaches of North Carolina fill their trunks with these melons and take them back to wherever they came from.”

Creel said Bogue Sound growers will distribute small and very large melons at their roadside stands, while L&M will handle “retail sizes.” He said he expected L&M to handle about 50 loads.

“It’s a small deal, compared to some of the other things we’re involved in,” Creel said, “but it’s fun to be involved with something that unique.”

The deal is expected to start around July 1. Creel said L&M’s share of the melons primarily will be distributed to Harris Teeter and Lowe’s Foods stores in North Carolina.