California’s cantaloupe producers are celebrating peak harvest season in the state’s most prolific production area, as the Fresno County Board of Supervisors declares the first ever “California Cantaloupe Week” slated for July 25 to 31.
Fresno County is reported to produce more than half of the cantaloupe grown in California, making Fresno the largest cantaloupe producing county in the state. The latest statistics from the Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner show growers in Fresno County produce nearly 250,000 tons of cantaloupe on 11,400 acres of farmland and generate more than $75 million in farm gate value.
The resolution for California Cantaloupe Week was passed July 12 and presented by the County Board of Supervisors to Garrett Patricio of Westside Produce, Firebaugh, and John Gilstrap, manager of the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board. Patricio is an American Vegetable Grower® magazine GenNext Grower.
Fresno County is followed by other major producing counties including Stanislaus, Imperial, San Diego, and Riverside counties. California is responsible for 75% of the cantaloupe sold in U.S. stores. The peak months of production in the San Joaquin Valley are July, August, and September. During May and June, cantaloupes are produced in the southern desert areas of the state, and a smaller second cantaloupe crop also comes from the desert production areas in October.
“Locally grown is such a big movement among consumers today and cantaloupe lovers who live in and around Fresno may not realize they are so close to farmland and farmers who grow this delicious, sweet fruit,” said Garrett’s dad, Steve Patricio, Chairman of the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board and owner of Westside Produce. “We want consumers to look for locally grown cantaloupe in their stores and to ask for it in local restaurants in support of the farmers and farmworkers who work hard to deliver a safe, nutritious product. We are working with Fresno-area restaurants and retailers to feature California cantaloupe during California Cantaloupe Week and for the rest of our season.”
Patricio added that in 2012, the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board voted in a mandatory food safety program. This food safety program includes a set of safety standards to which all California cantaloupe producers are committed in their mission to provide all California cantaloupe consumers with the highest level of safety and quality.