California leads the way as the leading fresh market
vegetable producing state, accounting
for 43% of the U.S. harvested area, 49%
of national production, and 48% of value for
the 24 vegetables and melons.
Watermelon crop value moves up and down each year but in recent times its estimated value has been around $83 million.
Who doesn't love the juicy, sweet flavor of a fresh summer watermelon,
dripping with delight? The flavorful, colorful vegetable (member of zucchini
family) is a
popular favorite at picnics and casual outings but has been integrated into
buffets, reception trays and the melon, itself, is ideal for carving much
like a pumpkin. Californians love their melons and they consume tons of it,
watermelon festivals and events.
Well, maybe they produce at least a ton of it, along with the Western region
states and Mexico combined. California has aligned itself in a marketing
effort under the hat of the Western Watermelon Association. The organization encompasses the states of
Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Washington,
Hawaii, and the country of Mexico.
The Western U.S. region produces 1billion, 363 million pounds of watermelon or 1,363,000,000 or 32% of all the watermelons produced in the U.S. and Mexico.
History of Watermelons
Egyptians had watermelons 5,000 years ago and then shared them with the rest of civilization in the 10th century, but the watermelons had to come from somewhere before they had them. Nevertheless, this is not a new food source but has been around through recorded history of Planet Earth. In ancient times travelers used watermelons as a replacement for water, and today if you were in a bind, that watermelon would quench your thirst just the same as it did back then. Why? Watermelons are more than 90% water.
Square watermelons were
created to save space and to ensure that the watermelons fit in the
refrigerators more easily in Japan. The farmers put the watermelons in a square
tempered glass box, when the watermelon is still growing on the vine. The
square boxes are of exact dimensions of the Japanese refrigerators that
allows full-grown watermelon to fit in conveniently and precisely in
refrigerator shelves. The square watermelons are generally priced at a very
Watermelon Recipes - Here are a few watermelon recipes ranging from a 4th of July desert cup, to a watermelon cocktail made with Vodka, and a light and spicy watermelon salad using jalapeno.
Watermelon Growing Areas, Tonnage, Revenue
California produces approximately 330,000 tons (302 T) of watermelon per
year (1.95 million for the United States. Recent average gross has been
around $83 million. Limited supplies of California watermelons
are available beginning in May. Production peaks in August, and the season
ends in November. Most California watermelons are marketed in the western
United States and Canada. Major competition in the market comes from Mexico,
Arizona, and Texas.
California Watermelon Production Areas & Seasons
Watermelons (Citrullus lanatus) are produced in the northern Central Valley
(Sacramento, San Joaquin, and Stanislaus Counties); Central Valley (Kern and
Tulare Counties); and southern California deserts (Imperial and Riverside
Counties). Statewide, watermelons are planted from December to early July
for harvest from mid-May to late October.
Varieties of Watermelons
Seeded (Diploid) Varieties include Sangria and Fiesta, popular All-Sweet hybrids that are oblong and dark green with broken, light green stripes. The flesh is bright red with black seeds.
Calsweet, the most popular open-pollinated variety, has striped skin and red flesh. Also grown is the hybrid Royal Sweet, with striped skin and dark pink flesh. Sultan is an early-maturing, high-yielding hybrid.
watermelon varieties grown in the northern San Joaquin Valley include Sugar
Baby, Baby Doll, and Tiger Baby.
Seedless (Triploid) Varieties
Seedless varieties have in recent years accounted for the majority of the California watermelon acreage. Commonly used seedless varieties include Fandango, Super Cool, Nova, Laurel, Wonderland, Fire Cracker, Quality, Ultra Cool, Millionaire, AC 532, AC 5032, and AC 5244.
Miniature seedless watermelon varieties, sometimes referred to as personalized watermelons, are now being commercially produced for grocery store sales. Popular miniature varieties include Precious Petite, Petite Perfection, Solitare, and Extasy