It’s one of the signals of summer: watermelons coming by the case to local grocery stores.
But one of the island’s largest watermelon growers says this summer is off to a rough start.
“This melon isn’t going to make it. These melons here are already sort of deformed,” said Mike Lum of Aloun Farms.
Back in April, Lum says severe rain delayed harvesting for about 10 days, and to make matters worse, a virus hit some of the crops.
“What the mosaic virus does is it prematurely ages the vine. The vine needs a certain of amount of time to produce its babies or fruits, and what the mosaic does, it ages it, and the vine, when it comes to production, just can’t do,” Lum said.
The mosaic virus isn’t just affecting the watermelons. It’s also affecting the farm’s cantaloupe and honey dew crops.
Lum says half of the farm’s melons are no good, impacting about 80 acres total. He say it’s the worst he’s ever seen.
“Normally when we harvest, the field looks barren with no fruit. As you can see, there’s quite a lot of fruit that was unable to harvest,” Lum said.
With such a shortage, will customers end up paying more at the supermarket?
“As far as prices, during the summer months you should actually see a decline, because of the plentiful supply in sales. However, due to the shortage and the lower supply, you may not see that,” Lum said.
KHON2 also reached out to Foodland. A manager said they are working with distributors to keep prices down, but it’s hard to say if prices will go up.
The good news is that Aloun Farms should see an increase in melons this summer. They expect more by late July or early August, as long as good weather continues.