By Malinda Geisler, content specialist, AgMRC, Iowa State University.
Profile updated May 2013 by Diane Huntrods, AgMRC, Iowa State University.
U.S. watermelon production in 2012 totaled more than 39 million cwt, up from 2011. The value of fresh market watermelons that year was nearly $520.8 million, also up from the previous year. The average price dropped 60 cents from 2011, falling to $13.30 per cwt. (NASS)
The leading producers of watermelon in 2012 were the states of Florida and Georgia, followed by the states of California and Texas. Combined, these states accounted for 65 percent of U.S. production (NASS). China is, by far, the leading producer of watermelons.
Watermelons thrive in sandy or sandy loam soils. The crop is usually ready to harvest in about 90 days. Peak production occurs from May through August.
Most of the U.S. watermelon production is consumed fresh. Per capita fresh watermelon consumption in 2010 was 15.5 pounds (ERS). According to consumption data, women tend to eat more watermelon than men. About 85 percent of watermelons are purchased at the retail level for home consumption. Other processed products include roasted seeds, pickled rind and watermelon juice.
According to the University of Georgia, several marketing methods are used for watermelons. The method used depends on the grower and amount of production. Marketing methods include selling an entire field of production, using a broker or supplier, selling directly to truckers or stores or selling directly to customers at farmers' markets.
Commodity Highlight: Watermelon, Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook, Economic Research Service (ERS), USDA, 2012 - Watermelon leads per capita use of all U.S. melon crops with a 60-percent share, followed by cantaloupe and honeydew.
Food Availability, ERS, USDA.
Fruit and Tree Nuts, ERS, USDA.
Fruit and Tree Nut Yearbook, ERS, USDA.
U.S. Watermelon Industry Statistics, ERS, USDA.
Vegetables Annual Summary, National Ag Statistics Service, USDA.
Watermelon Statistics, National Watermelon Promotion Board.
- Commercial Watermelon Production, University of Georgia - This online guide includes a section on watermelon marketing and pricing.
- Factors Affecting Watermelon Consumption in the United States, ERS, USDA, 2001 - This article links watermelon consumption data to consumers' economic, social and demographic characteristics.
- National Watermelon Promotion Board - This Florida-based organization works on behalf of U.S. growers and shippers to increase consumer demand for watermelon.
- Smaller, Low-Price Seedless Watermelon’s Market Dominance Marks the End of Seeded Era, Texas A&M University, 2003 - This article reports how the once novelty seedless watermelons have become popular with consumers and retailers.
- USDA Fruit and Vegetable Programs
- Beggs Family Farm, Blodgett, Missouri - The family farm, part of Beggs Melon Company Inc, has raised watermelons since 1895. In addition to watermelons, the farm has added pumpkins and agritourism.
- Frey Farms Produce, Poseyville, Indiana - This Southern Indiana melon farm raises seed and seedless watermelon varieties, which are distributed nationwide.
- High Tunnel Melon & Watermelon Production, University of Missouri Extension, 2006.
- Icebox Watermelon Variety Trial 2004, Washington State University - This site reports results of icebox varieties.
- Watermelon Production and Management Resources, Vegetable Research & Information Center, University of California Extension.
Links checked January 2013.