Early in harvest, Mississippi watermelons looking good

June 19, 2022 GMT

RAYMOND, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi’s watermelons are looking good as the state’s harvest season opens, the Mississippi State University Extension Service says.

“Melon quality is good,” said agent Heath Steede. “The dry weather we’ve been having hurts other crops, but for watermelons it has been what we needed. We haven’t had any excess water, which makes them less sweet.”

Steede said in a news release Friday that the seven farmers he works with in George County are “pulling them pretty hot and heavy.”

He noted that the juicy melons are plentiful across the Southeast this year, so wholesale prices are down from previous years.

Watermelons need rain early in the growing season, but too much rain later on can dilute sweetness and introduce disease.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Crop Progress and Condition Report said on June 12 that Mississippi’s watermelon quality is 67% good and 31% fair, according to the extension service. Harvest is 10% complete compared to 7% at this time last year.

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Growers have seen an average amount of disease, Steede said.

Most of Mississippi’s watermelons are grown in the southeast, but some grow in the north. Reid Nevins, an extension agent in Lowndes County, said production is on track for the one commercial grower there.

Watermelon crops in north Mississippi will not be ready until around July 4.