In a case of unfortunate timing, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported Oct. 4 that area forecast for "melons" is 18,500 acres, up 11% from last year. Cantaloupe harvested area is forecast at 14,700 acres, up 11% from 2010. Honeydew harvested area is forecast at 3,800 acres, up 12% from last fall.

Given the hard to refute fact that the cantaloupe-linked listeria foodborne illness outbreak has created a decline in demand, (see story "When in doubt throw it out" ) the double digit increase in acreage for fall cantaloupe will cause marketers to work hard to earn their money.

On Oct. 8, the USDA reported f.o.b. prices of just $5-6 per carton of 12s for California San Joaquin Valley cantaloupe,   Look for pressure on the market to continue, given the indicated boost in cantaloupe acreage this fall.