By Clint Thompson
Watermelons are in short supply and high demand right now. Alabama produce farmer Art Sessions hopes to capitalize when his crop becomes ready the first week in June.
“We’ve been getting watermelons out of Florida and they are scarce. Everything coming out of Florida is really tight on account of this virus deal,” said Sessions, who also said there’s high demand for tomatoes as well. “It’s really affecting the supply chain pretty bad. A lot of the product are short, like tomatoes. Tomatoes are as high as I’ve ever seen them for this time of year. From what I’ve gathered, a lot of the pickers left on account of this virus.”
Sessions Farm is in Grand Bay, Alabama. It produces approximately 50 acres of watermelons, starting with a few yellow-meat varieties in the next couple of weeks. He has had to buy watermelons from Florida and can attest to the high costs farmers can sell their crop for.
“They’re pretty high right now, sure are. They aren’t outlandish. They’re pretty reasonable. We’ve been buying a lot of Florida. They are higher than normally what we would sell ours for,” Sessions said.
Shortage by Memorial Day?
Carr Hussey, a watermelon farmer in Florida and Alabama and chairman of the board of the Florida Watermelon Association, confirmed on Tuesday that watermelons are in short supply and there could be a shortage by Memorial Day. He said prices are around 20 cents per pound right now but could improve to 22 or 24 cents around Memorial Day weekend.
This could lead to continued higher prices for farmers in North Florida, Alabama and Georgia when they start harvesting their crops in June.
Sessions wonders if the current coronavirus pandemic impacted the supply chain.
“I think a lot of guys, when this thing hit, they backed out of planting. They didn’t plant as much,” Sessions said. “We had already planted when this thing hit, or we would have backed way off. Just the uncertainty of not knowing if you’re going to be able to sell your crop. A lot of folks we sell to shut down and they are just now opening things back up. That’s one reason the prices on some of this stuff is strong because everybody now is wanting stuff and it’s hard to get.”