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Rollercoaster spurts of unseasonal weather will delay the start of the watermelon season for McMelon Inc., headquartered in Lake Wales, FL. “It’s not off to that good of a start in Florida because of cold weather,” President and Chief Executive Officer Arnold Mack told The Produce News on April 12.

McMelon is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mack Farms Inc., also located in Lake Wales. The company has an extensive history growing and marketing potatoes.

McMelon began growing watermelons in 1967. The company’s production acreage is in the agricultural area north of Okeechobee, FL, and west of Vero Beach, FL. In addition to Florida operations, Mr. Mack said the company moves product at McAllen, TX, and Nogales, AZ.

Looking at the 2013 watermelon season, Mr. Mack said temperatures were warm in January. Planting was underway by the time temps plunged in late February and early March. “And there’s been a lot of heavy winds,” he went on to say, indicating the wind affects watermelon vines and fruit set. “We don’t have an early set on ours.”

A crown picking will take place in early May, and Mr. Mack suspects there will be some quality issues for the watermelons during the early portion of the season. “We will have better volume coming in all three areas in the next two weeks,” he went on to say. As volume hits its stride, Mr. Mack said that effects associated with adverse weather will be overcome, and quality will improve.

“We should get close to a normal deal when we get to May,” he commented, saying he expects volume in 2013 will be down slightly when compared to last season as a result of dicey weather in the early season.

McMelon is a year-round marketer of watermelons, and the season typically ends after Labor Day with the shipment of fruit primarily out of Delaware. “In November, we return to Florida for a fall crop,” Mr. Mack stated. “After that, it’s offshore.”

The fruit is marketed under the “McMelon” label primarily to chainstores and a few wholesalers and terminal markets east of the Mississippi. “A little goes west of the river from time to time,” he noted.

Mr. Mack said he is proud of his dedicated sales team, which moves both watermelons and potatoes. His son, Chandler, serves as the company’s vice president. Nick Leger and produce veteran Ken Wiles keep activity at the sales desk humming. And Doug Miller has joined the sales team as its newest member.