Arizona Summertime Means Fresh, Local Arizona Melon Time
Today in Arizona, 12 to 14 major Arizona melon growers grow for the market on 17,800 acres. Most of the production is in Yuma and Maricopa counties.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistical Services (NASS), since 1992, harvested Arizona cantaloupe acreage has ranged from 13,200 to 23,300 acres with a production value ranging from $38 million (in 1992) to currently $82.5 million (2020). In 2008, value peaked at almost $119 million.
So, it’s reasonable to say, we’re good at growing melons in Arizona. In fact, we’re second only to California’s melon production. And in Arizona, our cantaloupe crop is spring, summer and fall crops, reaching $82.4 million in value this most recent season. This is all because of the state’s 300-plus days of super sunshine.
Regarding Arizona watermelon, harvested acreage has ranged from 2,700 to 7,600 acres since 1992. value of production has ranged from $11.8 million to $46.7 million.
Some quick facts:
- Of the 9 states in cantaloupe production, Arizona is #2, only behind California.
- Of the three states in honeydew production, Arizona is #2, only behind California.
- 16 states are in watermelon production, Arizona is in the middle of the pack on acres and production and value (#7, #8 or #9 depending on the year).
- Arizona had 28% of U.S. cantaloupe value, 30% of U.S. honeydew value, 6% of U.S. watermelon value in 2014.
- The 14 growers are mostly very large commercial growers, but still family-owned and operated.
- One Farm Family, Martori, market under the “Kandy” label. They sell mostly to major retailers. Their website explains that they are an American grower and shipper rooted in a century of experience in fresh fruit and vegetable farming.
- Another melon-growing Farm Family, Rousseau Family Farms, for example, harvest large quantities of watermelon during the summer (it’s approximately a 6-week harvest run). They market under the "Majesty" label. They also do sweet corn, 3 generations of farming in Tolleson and Scottsdale. They run a Farmers’ Market called Rousseau Farmers’ Market on Saraval and Olive in the West Valley. Currently, you can buy their watermelons, sweet corn and roasted chili peppers.
A recent Rosie on the House show featured the Rousseau Family’s Kami Weddle, their Director of Food Safety. Wil a quick listen to this “Farm Fresh” show, you’ll discover just how many watermelons the family is harvesting during the summer and their nutritional value.
Go to Fill Your Plate for melon recipes. Searchable by product!