Posts Tagged “cantaloupe”

Tips for Selecting the Perfect Cantaloupe

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DINUBA, Calif. – Something new is happening in the world of cantaloupe! According to the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board, which represents all growers of cantaloupe in California, cantaloupe growers around the world are increasingly planting newer varieties that have longer shelf life, which helps to reduce food waste.

California cantaloupe farmers are no exception. This summer nearly all of the state’s cantaloupes – which are harvesting now – will be newer, longer shelf-life varieties. And this means your old method for selecting a good one has changed.

“California cantaloupe growers want people to know these new varieties offer consumers that same great cantaloupe taste they love, along with some extra benefits,” said Garrett Patricio, of Westside Produce, a California melon supplier. “But with these new varieties comes some new rules to follow when selecting a ripe cantaloupe at your grocery store.”

Selecting the perfect cantaloupe has often been considered challenging for many people. But, according to Patricio, new cantaloupe varieties make that process easier in many ways.

“Plant breeders are constantly working to improve cantaloupe varieties to give you the best eating experience possible,” says Patricio. “These new varieties are bred to be sweeter and to have firmer flesh, which means they last longer on store shelves and in people’s refrigerators. This means they can help people stretch their food dollars and less food ends up in the trash.”

Patricio also explains that under a program known as the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board, farmers are required to test their melons for sugar content before they harvest. The sugar requirement is enforced by the California Department of Food and Agriculture for all cantaloupes produced in the state.

“We do this by testing for brix, which is a measurement of sugar content,” explains Patricio. “California cantaloupes must have at least 12 brix when they are harvested. However, many new cantaloupes are actually harvested at close to 14 or 15 brix. Meaning you can expect a very sweet eating experience and shoppers can have confidence when it comes to picking out the perfect cantaloupe in stores.”

The California Cantaloupe Advisory Board also offers some updated tricks and tips for selecting the perfect cantaloupe.

How to Pick a New Variety Cantaloupe

  1. A Little Green is OK

While a cream color is always a good indicator of a mature melon, new varieties may often have a somewhat green hue. Don’t be deterred by a slightly green cast on new variety of cantaloupes.

      2. Cracking Isn’t Always a Bad Thing

If the ‘blossom end’ (the end opposite the stem) is beginning to show a bit of cracking, this can be a good indicator of ripeness, so don’t worry that the cracking is a defect. Another sign of ripeness, this blossom end will be somewhat soft to the touch, meaning it gives slightly when pressed gently with the fingers.

       3. Stem or No Stem – Either is Fine

The stem end of newer cantaloupe varieties may be smooth, but it’s just as likely to have a bit of stem left on the melon. A good sign of a mature melon is that some netting is growing up the stem. Netting is the raised net-like texture on the shell of the cantaloupe.

       4. The Nose Doesn’t Always Know

Newer cantaloupe varieties don’t emit a natural gas called ethylene, which enhances ripening. This is one reason they last longer, but it also means they don’t give off the same traditional, sweet melon smell, even though they typically have higher sugar content than the old varieties.
Note: Please note that today’s new cantaloupe varieties are NOT produced using genetically modified breeding techniques but are done using traditional cross pollination methods for varietal development.

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San Joaquin Valley Fruit is Starting Soon; Some Calif. Rates Hit $9,500

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DSCN0145Two major California summer produce items are expected to get underway the week of June 24th, with volume shipments really increasing entering July.

Meanwhile, $9,000 gross freight rates from Salinas to the East Coast are becoming relatively common.

Cantaloupe shipments from the West Side of California’s San Joaquin Valley are  expected to get underway next week, as loadings will continue into October.

Overall acreage is down about 5 to 10 percent on cantaloupes from a year ago.  Whether that translates to yields and an reduction in loads remains to be seen.

Cantaloupe shipments start each season from Huron in the southern part of the valley and gradually moves northward into the Firebaugh district, before coming out of the Los Banos area.  The end of the season has cantouples originating from fields in the northern area of Crow’s Landing.

Besides cantaloupe, other melons will be available for hauls ranging from honeydews, to Cranshaws, Casabas, Persians, Canaries, Orange Flesh, Santa Claus, Galias and Hamis.

Shipments of these items should get underway by July 1st.

Record Grapes Shipments?

Southern San Joaquin Valley table grapes from the Arvin district near Bakersfield will start shipping a little early this year (last week of June).  Combine this with Sonara Mexican grapes crossing the border at Nogales, AZ and Coachella Valley grapes in the California desert running a little late – and there could be a glut of fruit needing to be shipped just prior to the Fouth of July holidays.

A number of grape shippers will be going entering the shipping arena the week of June 24th.

The April preliminary estimate this year is 106.9 million 19-pound boxes of grapes . If  this holds, it will top last year’s record volume of about 101 million boxes.

More than half of that volume will be harvested and shipped after Sept. 1.

If the estimate holds it would result in record California grape shipments  for the second year in a row.

Coachella Valley grapes – grossing about $6700 to Atlanta.

Salinas Valley veggies, berries – grossing mostly around $8000, with some as high as $9500 to Boston; $6,000 to Chicago.

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Colorado Vegetable Shipments are Starting

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Colorado is the fourth leading shipper of onions by volume in the USA, and loadings not only with onions, but other vegetables begin this month from the northeastern part of the state.]

In the San Luis Valley, which at an elevation of 7,600 feet, is the highest and largest commerical agricultural valley in the world, potatoes from the 2011-12 season should be finishing up soon, just in time from the new crop of russets to get  started.  Colorado ranks in the top 10 among potato shipping states.

The Rocky Ford area of Colorado has started shipping cantaloupe, but loading opportunities will be off a whopping 70 percent this season.  Much less acreage was planted following the disasterious 2011 season where a food borne illness – listeria – killed 32 people, plus sickened nearly 150 people in 28 states.  Only about 180,000 cartons of Colorado cantaloupes are forecast to be shipped, and distribution will not be nationwide this year, as in the past.

San Luis Valley potatoes – grossing about $1600 to Dallas.


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Cantaloupe, Strawberries and Watermelons

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Buying two of my favorite fruits with any good taste has been a real challenge this year — until this week.

Finally had some cantaloupe from Costa Rica that was out of sight!  I know when my cantaloupe is tasting as it should when I don’t have to sprinkle salt on it.

My next pleasant surprise came with California strawberries.  I had began to think I’d just grown tired of eating strawberries, until this week.  What finally hit me was I’d just grown weary of fruit lacking in taste.  You’d cut one open and it there was more white color than red.  This quart of clamshell strawberries also wasn’t detriorating.  Lately it seemed I have to eat the whole quart at once because the next day, the fruit was be going to “crap.”  I’ve had these strawberries at the house three days and they remain firm, tasty, with a beautiful red color — and no decay.

Maybe, they finally realized they should have been shipping it protected by Tectrol, which slows the aging process.

Another one of my favorites are watermelons.  I often find it difficult to buy great tasting melons until around the 4th of July.  You get all the early season stuff out of the way, and warmer, more consistent weather helps produce better watermelons. 

Expect watermelon retail prices to be pretty stiff, especially in the eastern half of the USA.  For various reasons, melon crops have been hit pretty hard and supplies will be much tighter than normal.  Out West, supplies are much better and you may not face as much stick shock.

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$3.98 versus 26K for a Pair of Melons!

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I bought this pair of melons grown in Guatemala at a local U.S. supermarket for $1.98 a piece.  They were good, but not great.  I placed a little salt on each to compensate for the lack of sweetness.  The Guatemalan cantaloupe has gotten better as the season has progressed, not unusal for a lot of fruit, not matter where it is grown.

Now get this.  In Japan, the Yubari King melon is what Kobe is to beef.  Yubari is a Japanese city famous for cantaloupe that is a cross between two varieties.  A Japanese auction has gotten as much $26,000 for a pair of these melons!  However, the “regular” Yubari melons more typically garner “only” $50 to $100 a pair!

Think I’ll stick with my Guatemalan melons, even if I do have to add a little salt.


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A Look at National Produce Shipments

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Supplies of refrigerated a equipment are tightening some as we get further into spring.   How big a shortage of trucks for hauling produce will be this year will start to reveal itself in the weeks ahead and should be really interesting by late May and onward through the summer.

In Florida, blueberry loadings from Central and North Florida are now in good volume and hauls are available into June….Meanwhile, Georgia “blues” are right behind Florida.  Good Georgia blueberry shipments should be available by next week….Back to Florida, rates for hauling watermelons out of the southern part of the state have jumped 20 percent in recent days.  Vegetable volume from Florida continues to be heavy.

In South Texas, vegetables continue to be loaded, combined with a lot of veggies and tropical fruit from Mexico crossing the border into Texas.  Cantaloupe shipments have started from the Rio Grande Valley.  There’s still no overall damage reports on storm-hit watermelons in South Texas.  There will be fewer loads, but who knows how much less?  Loadings are light, but will be increasing and continue into mid-June.

In California, the Imperial Valley is quieter with the seasonal end of vegetable shipments.  However, cantaloupe shipments will start in mid-May….About 300 truckload equivalents of carrots are being shipped weekly from the Bakersfield area.

Southern California continues to ship good volumes of avocados, strawberries and citrus…..The Santa Maria district, along with the Salinas Valley will become more active with produce shipments in the weeks ahead.

In Washington state, there are steady loadings of apples and pears from the Yakima and Wenatchee valleys.

Washington state apples and pears – grossing about $4200 to Chicago.

Southern California produce – grossing about $5000 to Chicago.

South Texas produce  – about $4800 to New York City.

South Florida veggies – about $3600 to New York City.



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The Lettuce is Alright

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This probably won’t make big news, but head lettuce grown in Arizona fields south of Phoenix and shipped to a few areas in the west have been pulled from the market.  The grower and shipper of the lettuce is Growers Express of Salinas, CA.  The vegetable company is already receiving high praise as it pulled its product from the market even though there is nothing known to be wrong with it.  Apparently a separate lettuce field not too far away was found to have Somenella.  As a precauation Growers Express decided to remove it’s lettuce from retail stores, even though none of its lettuce had tested positive for food containmation.  In the wake of the Colorado cantaulope debacle last year resulting in several deaths, extra precautions are apparently being taken by some produce companies.

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