Melons are late this year in Virginia.

Farmers are reporting watermelons and cantaloupes are becoming ripe at the wrong time.

"There's a few of them that should have been picked yesterday," said Don Reese from Reese Farms in Halifax County as he watched a group of men pick melons in a field.

Since last Friday farm hands have picked six to eight thousand cantaloupes and watermelons a day, when they're ripe.

But that's where there's a problem. The melons were supposed to be ready last month.

"If you can get cantaloupes before the fourth of July they're always easy to sell," Reese said.

Reese and his crew started picking on the fourth.

"If we would have had them a week earlier it would have been a lot easier for us," Reese said.

He says it's a mixture of an extra cold winter, a cooler than normal spring and just enough rain that made the melons late bloomers. Reese was expecting this.

"Is it always unpredictable with the crop each year?" I asked.

"Every year is different, but at some point every year there is a weather related issue that we can't foresee," Reese said.

Melons throughout the state are coming in later than expected according to Virginia State University.

But there is an upside.

Virginia Cooperative Extension Agent Chris Brown anticipates a memorable taste if current weather conditions continue.

"In a dryer year you get a sweeter melon," Brown said. "If there is a lot of moisture in a year it dilutes the sugars."

Brown says the market prices are also down this year.
The Reese Farm makes money through this produce stand on Route 360 and by selling produce to stores. The late crop is damaging Reese's business.

"You don't ever make that up. If you lose it at the beginning of the year you don't make it up at the end of the year so it's just lost sales," Reese said.

Right now his farm hands are picking as fast as they can to meet demands, working to make up for lost profit.