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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Delaware Watermelon Harvest



 Here is part II of a series of posts by Cory of Cory's Produce on Watermelon production in Delaware.  The kids that read his report to Flat Aggie LOVED how the watermelons ride from the fields.  -KFM

In the harvest season a crew will walk the field look and decide which melons is ready and cut it the stem from the vine. We refer to this part of harvest as the cutters. 

After the cutters have begun across the field, we begin to send another crew referred to as loaders across the field where they pick up each melon pass them to one another and they end up bulk loaded onto trucks, wagons and most commonly retired school buses. 

Once the vehicle that is being loaded is loaded it is drove to our packing shed. At the packing shed the melons are unloaded labeled, inspected and put into bins according to variety, Seeded or seedless, and size. Once the bin is full with the current count it is moved to a staging area of the shed in preparation for being loaded onto refer semi-trailers to be delivered to the store. 

Generally melons will be in the staging area no more than 36hrs before an order is submitted and they head for the store. Being in Delaware, we have a large market for melons in the north east, although I have shipped melons as far west as Colorado, and south back to Fort Myers, Florida depending on the year and the market. 

When Delaware is in production so is the eastern shore of Maryland, as well as in some cases Southern Missouri and Indiana. Though, due to Delaware being centrally located on the east coast we have a logistic advantage over other states. 

 

After the harvest of a field is completed the melons are mowed off the raised beds. 

Once the beds are mowed we will leave it sit for a few days and then we will begin removing the black plastic and drip tape from the raised beds. This is done in a series of steps first we being by running a machine called a mulch lifter across each bed. This splits the black plastic in the middle and helps lift the edges of it out of the ground.

 Next, a crew will go through the field and pile the plastic and tape. Once that is done, they will begin loading the plastic and drip tape into trucks or loaders which then take them to commercial size roll off dumpsters which is then taken to the local landfills and properly disposed of. 

Once all the plastic, drip tape, and drip tape supply line called lay flat is removed, we will sub soil rip the entire farm and work it down and I will plant a winter crop of barley or wheat to be harvested the following spring. 

In cases where I do not plant barley or wheat I will plant a winter crop to use up any extra nutrients, control soil erosion, and run-off, as well as improve soil quality, and keep top-soil from blowing away during the winter months. 

Thanks for reading about watermelon production in Delaware it’s been an honor to explain all the hours work and process of getting everyone a MAR-DELicious watermelon the favorite summertime treat to their household. Just remember it’s MAR-DELicious if it’s been grown in MARyland or DELaware.

 Thanks so much for taking the time to tell us about how watermelons are grown.  I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did!
-A Kansas Farm Mom