California Watermelon


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, especially at 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.

Watermelon Facts

  • Though watermelon is commonly considered as a fruit it is actually a vegetable! It is a member of the cucumber family.
  • Contains 90% water
  • The largest watermelon grown to date weighed 262 pounds, and was grown by Bill Carson of Arrington, Tennessee in 1990.
  • Watermelon is the Lycopene Leader among fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Generally, watermelon production is labor intensive, especially in harvesting and postharvest handling.
  • Very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Potassium, and a very good source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C.
  • Large portion of the calories in this food come from sugars.

Square Watermelons

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 high premium.

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.

Icebox 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

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