The watermelon production season for Coastal Growers LLC has been ideal and the marketing aspect is also bright, according to Will Hales, a partner in the firm, who said July 8, “We are looking to kick off the season on July 18.”
Coastal Growers was created in 2008 as a partnership between Mr. Hales, who runs Hales Farms Inc. in Salisbury, MD, and Travis Hastings, who grows watermelons at Lakeside Farms Inc. about 20 miles away in Laurel, DE.
“The market is very strong right now,” said Mr. Hales, a grower of seedless and seeded watermelons. “It is a very good market now and it looks like it will stay that way; stay strong throughout the season.”
Going into mid-July, the weather had been hot and dry for both the Salisbury and Laurel farms. The drought situation was controlled by irrigation, ultimately providing very good growing conditions for the melons. “The lack of rain right now is probably actually working to benefit of watermelon season.”
“Yields will be really good considering we got hit with several days in late May and early June with a heat index in the 100s,” said Mr. Hales.
Coastal Growers increased its watermelon acreage to 600 acres this year from 550 a year ago.
“The market looks real good, and demand seems to have been good all season long and looks like it will continue,” said Mr. Hales.
Taking advantage of Coastal’s proximity to East Coast markets, he noted, “We are all about promoting locally grown produce.”
The company’s watermelon production on the Delmarva peninsula runs until mid-September.
Coastal was GAP-certified for the 2010 season. As The Produce News reported a year ago, Coastal Growers has new washers for its Delaware and Maryland packing facilities. Mr. Hales said that the firm sanitizes its watermelons to kill all living bacteria on the shell and to give the watermelons a longer shelf life, making Coastal “one of only a handful in the industry doing this.”
The Hales and Hastings families have been growing in the Delmarva region for over 100 years.