Some organizational and functional aspects of the Florida watermelon industry

Material Information

Some organizational and functional aspects of the Florida watermelon industry
Brooke, D.L
Close, E.G
Riggan, W.B
University of Florida -- Agricultural Experiment Station. -- Dept. of Agricultural Economics
Place of Publication:
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
50 p. : ; .. cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
South Florida ( local )
North Florida ( local )
Watermelons ( jstor )
Market development ( jstor )
Prices ( jstor )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Statement of Responsibility:
by D.L. Brooke, E.G. Close and W.B. Riggan.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
67338002 ( OCLC )
000474556 ( CLC )


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L. Brooke, E G. Close and W. 1. Riggan

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The Problem . . .
Purpose of Study . . .
Definitions. . . .
Method of Procedure. . .


Growers. . . . .

Economic Abandonment . .
Selling Activities . . .
Price Determination. . .

Itinerant Truckers . . .

Buying Practices . . .
Sales Outlets. . . .

Watermelon Handlers. . . .

Marketing Activities . .
Financing Production . .


Growers. . . . .

Attitudes and Opinions . .
Suggestions for Improving Watermelon

Itinerant Truckers . . .

Attitudes and Opinions . .
Suggestions for Improving Watermelon

Handlers . . . .

Attitudes and Opinions . .
Suggestions for Improving Watermelon

SUMMARY . . .. . ..

Organization of the Watermelon Market .

Growers. ..... . .
Itinerant Truckers.. . .
Handlers . . . .

Industry Changes 1960 to 1963. . .




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D. L. Brooke, E. G. Close and W. B. Riggan1


During the ten years. (1951-60) Florida farmers shipped, on the
average, 23,614 carlot equivalents2 of watermelons.3 This represented
approximately 22 percent of the total United States volume for this
period.4 Shipments from the state varied from 16,082 carlot equiva-
lents in 1951 to 26,886 in 1956. During this same period the average
shipping-point price varied from 1.00 cent per pound in 1958 to 2.35
cents per pound in 1959.5

Watermelons from Florida are the major factor in the market
from the middle of ApriLuntil-the last week of June. This seasonal
pattern and a comparison with competing sources are given in Table 1.
From the third week in April until the middle of June the weekly supply
from Florida accounts for more than two-thirds of the total national
market volume. Until the last of May, Mexico is the major source of
competition. California begins shipping in volume at that time. Texas,
Arizona, and Georgia become important sources of supply early in June.
Georgia is the largest shipper the first week in July. South Carolina
is an important shipper also during the first two weeks of July. As
Georgia and South Carolina reach volume production, the Florida supply
decreases rapidly.

lAgricultural Economist, former Research Assistant and Assistant
Agricultural Economist, respectively.

2Conversion factor for carlot equivalent equals 28,000 pounds.

'?AAnnual Agricultural Statistical Summary, 1959-60 Season
(Jacksonville, Florida: Florida State Marketing Bureau, November, 1960),
p. 96.

,Agricultural Statistics (Washington, D. C.: Department of
Agriculture, U. S. Government Printing Office, 1950-60).

5Annual Agricultural Statistical Summary, 1959-60 Season,
op. cit.

TABLE l.--Watermelon shipments from Florida and competing areas by weeks, 1951-60a

Origin Percent That
Weekn b South Otherrs Total Fla. Shipments
Ending Florida California Texasc Arizona Georgiac Carolinac Statesc Imports Are of Total

April 9 16 .. .. .. .. 17 33 48
16 29 .. .. .. 30 59 49
23 90 .... .. .. .. .. 35 125 72
30 261 .. .. .. .. .. .. 75 336 78

May 7 490 .. .. .. .. .. .. 88 578 85
14 921 .. .. .. .. .. 104 1,025 90
21 1,179 10 5 .. .. .. .. 116 1,310 90
28 2,086 58 15 .. .. .. .. 107 2,266 92

June 4 2,899 131 24 19 2 .. 83 3,158 92
11 3,215 218 133 80 135 3 36 3,820 84
18 4,051 325 222 193 476 .21 18 5,306 76
25 3,960 320 373 378 1,316 40 22 6,409 62

July 2 2,433 316 608 502 1,935 409 76 6,279 39
9 711 278 939 383 1,573 1,255 39 5,178 14
16 293 282 1,008 375 773 1,160 54 3,945 7

Total 22,634 1,938 3,327 1,930 6,210 2,864 215 709 39,827 57


Donald L. Brooke,

(Gainesville, Florida: Florida Agricultu
1957-60), C. V. Noble, Marvin A. Brooker
state and Foreign (Gainesville, Florida:
56-1, and 57-2, 1953-56), and C. V. Noble
state and Foreign (Gainesville, Florida:

Florida Truck Crop Competition 1.



Experiment Station Mimeo Reports 58-4

and Foreign

, 59-3, 60-3,

and 61-3,

and Donald L. Brooke, Florida Truck Crop Competition 1. Inter-
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station Series Nos. 54-4, 55-2,
and Marvin A. Brooker, Florida Truck Crop Competition 1. Inter-
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station Series No. 52-8, 1951-52).

bBased on 1960 calendar.

cNo truck shipments were given for these sources. It was assumed that their truck shipments were
in the same proportion to their total as were Florida's. Adjustments for total shipments were made

Watermelon production is widespread over the state with important
production areas reaching from Collier County in the south to Holmes and
Washington Counties in West Florida. In 1960, 47 counties had some
commerical production (Fig. 1). The difference in climate between the
production areas in the southern and western areas of the state permits
a staggering of harvest dates. Harvesting in Collier County begins in
late March or early April. As the season progresses the areas to the
north come into production. Harvest in the central area usually follows
South Florida by about a month. The Newberry-Trenton section comes into
production about the first week in June. The panhandle section follows
by about two weeks (Table 2).

TABLE 2.--Monthly shipments of watermelons by production areas, average
per season, Florida, 1956-60a

Month South Central North Floridatal
Florida Florida East of West of
Suwannee Suwannee
Total Carlot Equivalents:

March 54 1 .. 55
April 415 9 1 .. 425
May 2,716 1,851 326 3 4,896
June 1,224 4,253 7,603 1,387 14,467
July 10 218 1,102 1,825 3,155

Total 4,419 6,332 9,032 3,215 22,998

Percent of Total Shipments:

March. 1 b b
April 10 b b 2
May 61 29 4 b 21
June 28 67 84 43 63
July b 4 12 57 14

Total 100 100 100 100 100

aSource: Florida Vegetable Crops Annual Statistical Summary
(Orlando, Florida: Florida Crop and Livestock Reporting Service,

bLess than one-half of 1 percent.

1.2 I.31 2 2.9

6'7 ,'""

North Florida 6.4 i""'

Central Florida 6.4 15 64 '-1Osc'

I t 4 3 ^^0

.9 ..9 .r.~

so 9, 8 t-I u rt
Central Florida (.-.S\

.3 5 .8 A"'"""T

'o .4
.8 ;I 5.0
South Florida 1 5.
L -- -- -- -- -

3.1 ----

Fig. 1.--Watermelon production areas and percentage production
in various counties was of total production, Florida, 1960.

Source: Annual Agricultural Statistical Summary, 1959-60 Season
(Jacksonville, Florida: Florida State Marketing Bureau, November,
1960), pp. 102-110.

Before the widespread use of the Charleston Grey variety, if
there were no abnormal weather conditions, staggering of harvest dates
permitted an orderly flow of watermelons to market. The major areas
to the south were going out of production as those farther north were
coming in. There was a minimum of overlapping in harvesting dates
since the peak harvest in each area lasted only about ten days to two
weeks. The Charleston Grey watermelon, which accounts for about 90
percent of present plantings, often results in considerable overlapping
in harvesting from one area to another. Growers complained that its
higher yield and longer period of harvest have frequently caused
excessive supplies in the market.

The Problem

There are a number of specific characteristics that have an
effect on the market for Florida watermelons. Their production is
seasonal. They must be marketed in fresh form within a few days after
maturity. They are highly perishable from the standpoint of desirable
grade characteristics. A-a-lrge" segment of the industry is disorganized,
with only a few growers having any type of marketing organization. Most
go their individual ways when selling watermelons; consequently, their
bargaining power is insignificant. t r,-f -buyL'ig "ide, the itinerant
truckers also act in a highly individualistic manner. The established
handlers and chain store buyers appear to give some stability and
semblance of order to the market. Many of the larger growers have
working agreements with either a large cash buyer, a broker, or a chain
store buyer to handle their season's crop for the going price at the
time of sale.

The opinion is widespread among growers that chain store buyers
set the price for watermelons. Another common complaint is that the
itinerant truckers shop around from grower to grower and are influential
in reducing the price. The producers see the watermelon market as a
situation in which they are at the mercy of the buyers. They are unable
to influence the price and must take what is offered for their crop.
Many growers reflect this attitude by producing their crops and waiting
for buyers to come to them. From -1956 through 1960 an average of 9
percent of each crop of Florida watermelons was abandoned because of
low prices or lack of buyers.6 Since growers have been ineffective in
attaining orderly marketing while operating independently, it appears
that some type of group action would be desirable.


Purpose of Study

The purpose of this study was to determine the organization of
the watermelon market in order to have a basis for evaluating any
program which might be suggested for improvement.


Watermelon Growers

Watermelon growers were those persons who were directly involved
in a proprietary capacity in the business of producing watermelons
either as a partner or sole owner. This excluded those who financed
production but were not directly involved in the cultural and management

Itinerant Truckers

Itinerant truckers were those persons who both bought and hauled
watermelons. They could have bought for themselves or for someone else.
The important point was that they negotiated the purchases and handled
the payments. They may be contrasted with other truckers who were not
involved at all in buying and selling but hauled watermelons for freight

Watermelon Handlers

Watermelon handlers were those individuals or organizations,
other than itinerant truckers, who operated as either buyers, brokers,
or shippers of watermelons. In most cases they performed in a combined
capacity. They were located at the shipping point and did not do any
retailing--this eliminated chain store buyers. Their size of operations
in Florida varied from about 50 carlot equivalents per season to nearly

Method of Procedure

Specific data were required to accomplish the objective of this
study. Information from primary sources was needed to determine the
organization of the watermelon market. This was obtained from water-
melon growers, itinerant truckers, and watermelon handlers by personal
interviews. Additional information was obtained by examining shipping
invoices of watermelon handlers.

Market Organization

To determine the organization of the watermelon market it was
necessary to obtain certain data concerning the activities of those in
the business. This information was collected and analyzed to ascertain
the roles of the various types of operators in the watermelon industry.

Watermelon Growers

For the purpose of obtaining data from growers, the state was
divided into three broad production areas (Fig. 1) with seasonality of
production and type of growers the principal factors considered. The
South Florida area is located south of Polk County; the Central Florida
area is north of the Polk-Hardee County line and south of Marion County.
The North Florida area includes all of Florida north and west of the
Sumter-Marion County line. Table 2 gives the 1956-60 average shipments
from production areas by months. Although there was considerable over-
lapping from one area to another the pattern of production showed a steady
increase in shipments for the more northerly areas as the season progressed.
Concurrently, the shipments from the more southerly areas decreased.

As complete a list of growers as possible was obtained from each
county having 500 or more acres of watermelons planted for the 1960
season. From this list a random sample, stratified by production areas,
was taken. The number of growers selected for each area was proportional
to the acres of watermelons in that area.7 Nineteen growers were inter-
viewed in South Florida; 24 in Central Florida and 77 in North Florida.
The grower survey was made after the 1960 watermelon season in order to
obtain information about that season's operations. Also obtained were
the growers' attitudes and opinions concerning the watermelon market.

Data concerning growers' characteristics, marketing practices
and attitudes and opinions were analyzed by tabular method. Comparisons
were made by size of growers for some data and by production areas for
other data. Some opinions and attitudes were tabulated for all growers
with no differentiation as to size or production area.

Itinerant Truckers

Schedules were taken by the personal interview method from 91
itinerant truckers. Information was obtained about their method of
operation as well as their opinions and attitudes concerning watermelon
marketing. Since there was no list of itinerant truckers available,
a probability sample could not be taken. However, an effort was made
to obtain as representative a selection as possible. Some schedules

County watermelon acreages were obtained from L. T. Pendarvis,
County Acreages, Varieties and Harvest Date, Florida Watermelons, 1960.
Mimeo Sheet, May 13, 1960.

were taken from each of the major production areas of the state at the
time of loading. The time covered was from May 17 until June 29, 1960.
Even though a probability sample was not taken, it was felt that by
spreading the interviews over the state and over approximately six weeks
of time, those selected could be expected to be reasonably representative
of the population.

In an attempt to determine the volume of watermelons handled by
itinerant truckers, the truck-passing reports of the Florida Department
of Agriculture's road guard stations were examined. No exact figure
on itinerant truck volume could be obtained in this manner, but an
estimate was made by selecting the loads that appeared to be in the
category of itinerant truckers..8

Itinerant truckers' data were analyzed by tabular method.
Comparisons by time period were made for some. However, most of the
information obtained from truckers was analyzed by tabular summarizations.

Since no probability sample was taken the data obtained from
truckers could not be expanded into totals for the population. It is
assumed that these 91 truckers constitute a reasonable representation
of the entire population.

Watermelon Handlers

Since a list of handlers was not available, a probability sample
could not be taken. An effort was made to get as representative a
group of handlers as possible by interviewing all who could be located
over a two-week period during the North-Florida shipping season. This
time was chosen for this part of the study to enable respondents to
give as complete an account as possible of their 1960 season's operations.
It is the general practice among watermelon handlers to begin their
operations with the start of the shipping season in South Florida and
move north as the season progresses; therefore, the handlers operating
in North Florida at the time schedules were obtained were, in general,
those who had been present in Central and South Florida earlier in the

A schedule of general information about marketing practices
and opinions and attitudes concerning watermelon marketing was obtained

8Whether shipments were of itinerant truckers was decided on the
basis of the weight of evidence when the following characteristics were
considered. Each of the following is favorable to an itinerant trucker's
load: (a) The load was 25,000 pounds or less, (b) the truck tag was of
the same state as the state of destination, (c) the bill of lading
owner's address was the same as the load's destination, (d) address of
owner of the watermelons was the same state as truck license, and (e)
the bill of lading owner was an individual.

by personal interview from each of 28 handlers. This material was
analyzed by tabular method. Comparisons were made by size of handler
for much of the data. Information that was not suitable for comparison
analysis was analyzed by summarization.

No probability sample of handlers was taken; therefore, the
results obtained from the handlers could not be expanded into totals for
the entire population. It is assumed that the 28 handlers interviewed
presented a reasonable representation of the entire industry.

Handlers' Shipping Records

On the basis of information contained in the 28 handler schedules,
four handlers were selected on a judgment basis for the purpose of
securing detailed data from their shipping records. An effort was made
to select those who were representative of the various types of operators.
Handlers who operated as brokers, buyers, and shippers of their own
watermelons were included. These handlers operated in varying combi-
nations of the above types of operation. Large, small, and medium-
size handlers were included. A one-fourth systematic sample, with a
random start, was used in selecting individual records.

Data obtained from the handlers' sales invoices were analyzed
by.the tabular method showing comparisons by types of buyers for types
of sales, types of transportation used and the proportion of sales that
were inspected. Comparisons were made on the basis of shipping-point
price for types of buyers and types of sales. The pattern of handlers'
shipments was determined by summarizing the shipments by states of



It would be very difficult to give a picture of the typical
Florida watermelon grower since there is such wide variation in
characteristics from one individual to another. In addition to indi-
vidual differences there appear to be area differences. The number
of acres of watermelons grown per farmer in 1960 was 61 for the state.
The acreage varied from 47 in North Florida to 84 in South Florida
with an average of 70 acres per farmer for Central Florida (Table 3).
While area differences appear great, individual differences were much
greater. The range in acres of watermelons per farmer in the sample
was from five for the smallest grower to 600 acres for the largest.

TABLE 3.--Acres of watermelons per grower, years produced watermelons,
and percentage of crops sold, by production areas, Florida, 1960

Acres per Years Produced Percent of
Production Area Grower Watermelons Crop Sold

North Florida 47 16 68
Central Florida 70 16 52
South Florida 84 6 85
All Florida 61 14 67

There was also a wide difference in the number of years that
individual growers had produced watermelons. Some planted watermelons
for the first time in 1960, while one grower stated he had grown water-
melons for more than 45 years. South Florida growers had produced
watermelons an average of six years. Growers in other areas averaged
16 years. At least 10 of the 19 South Florida growers interviewed were
local residents before watermelon production became an important
activity in the area.

Economic Abandonment

One of the more serious problems confronting growers during the
1960 harvest season was a price so low that many good quality watermelons

are- 5 S1s^5*+V%' a
were abandoned in the field The price was, at times below the cost
of harvesting and loading. PEconomic abandonment W b ot serious in
Central Florida, where growers estimated they sold, on the average,
only 52 percent of their crop northh Florida growers sold 68 percent
and South Florida growers 85 percd of their crops,"(Table 3) Pooj ,- C )

The 1960 Florida season was not normal in respect to time of
harvest in various areas. Cold weather during the early growing period
caused extensive plant damage in all major producing areas. Subsequent
replantings at nearly the same date in various areas resulted in
extensive overlapping of the watermelon harvest. This occurred all the
way from Collier County in South Florida into South Georgia. This
overlapping explains to a high degree the different rates of abandon-
ment in the various producing areas. The harvest in South Florida was
substantially through before there was volume production from the areas
farther north. Some late crops in South Florida were abandoned because
of low price while others were abandoned due to wet fields.

Central Florida, which suffered most from economic abandonment,
was squeezed between South and North Florida crops. As a production
area farther north came into volume harvest it tended to put the older
harvesting areas out of business. There were two reasons for this.
First, earlier cuttings were usually of better quality than later cuttings
from the same field, thus most buyers preferred watermelons coming from
the new fields. Second, as the season progressed northward, the harvest
was closer to the major terminal markets. Consequently, freight costs
were lower and buyers could afford to pay more for melons which were
closer to market. In 1960 the North Florida area came into volume pro-
duction long before Central Florida watermelons were through, thus the
high rate of abandonment in Central Florida.

The North Florida watermelon harvest was squeezed between the
Central Florida area and South Georgia. Although the South Georgia
watermelon harvest period overlapped that of North Florida, the effect
was not as great as when the North Florida crop overlapped that of
Central Florida. This was probably due to the differences in degree of
overlapping in harvest dates and to the fact that the South Georgia
volume was not nearly as great as that of North Florida while the North
Florida volume was greater than that of Central Florida.

Rate of abandonment between different size operations did not
appear to be significant (Table 4). However, varying sizes of operators
had about the same rate of abandonment for different reasons. When the
f.o.b. price of watermelons falls below one cent a pound, economic
abandonment begins. The lower the price the more widespread abandonment
becomes. At one-half cent per pound abandonment is widespread. "Growers
who hired most of their harvest labor and equipment were of the general
opinion that it cost more than one-half cent a pound to harvest and load
watermelons." The smaller growers, who depended primarily upon their

12 _<

own equipment and mily labor for harvesting, tended to load watermelons
as long as they could get a return to labor, if they could find a buyer.
Quite often the fact that they could not find a buyer at any price was
the reason they abandoned their crops.

TABLE 4.--Percentage of growers' watermelon crops sold, by size of
grower, Florida, 1960

Acres per Grower
Item Under 9 8 120 and All
40 o479 ver Growers

Percent of
crops sold 68 65 70 61 67

The larger producers hired substantially all of their harvest
labor and hired trucks to haul watermelons from the fields. Thus, when
the price of watermelons dropped to the cost of harvesting they reacted
immediately by suspending harvest. These growers usually had working
agreements with buyers or handlers in order to have a market for their
crop as long as the price was high enough to pay for harvest.

Selling Activities

The smaller growers sold a large part of their watermelons to
itinerant truckers who generally loaded at the field" M'0CI4STh )
larger growers sold most of their watermelons through handlers who used
rail loadings extensively. The itinerant truckers felt that they could
buy cheaper if they went directly to the field. The growers, in general,
preferred to load there because it meant less handling. Many smaller
growers sold to itinerant truckers because they did not know any other
way to selle *g yktaeat th-tab iehd-bye-ro ar .hanlers
who preferred to deal with larger growers. Thus, the growers with small
acreages often were in the position of sitting and waiting for a buyer
to come along.

The "other buyers" in Table 5 were an important source of
disposal for all growers but were used most often by those in the medium-
size groups (40 to 119 acres). Growers of the medium-size group usually
had too many watermelons to sell without assistance, so they often made
arrangements with established cash buyers to handle all or part of their
crops. These arrangements could be either formal or informal. They
could last for a number of years or only for part of a season.

TABLE 5.--Method used in disposing of watermelons, by size of grower,
Florida, 1960

Acres per Grower
Under 40-79 80-119 120 and All
40 over Growers

Number of Growers:

To itinerant
truckers 37 28 8 5 78
To other buyers 31 25 17 6 79
Through handlers 11 17 10 9 47

Total 51 40 17 12 204a

Percent of Sales:

To itinerant
truckers 46 23 12 5 18
To other buyers 37 51 49 32 43
Through handlers 17 26 39 63 39

Total 100 100 100 100 100

aSome growers used

more than one means of disposing of their

Loaded on trucks at the field was the point used most often y
growers to relinquish control of their watermelons. Growers with small
acreages used this point most of the time (Table 6). Growers with
larger acreages used centralized truck loading areas and rail loadings
more often than field loading.

Most watermelons were-sold on a single-load basis, i.e., each
load was handled as a separate transaction (Table 7). SYeinsf w.
pe nweP haa b---i-ann 1"Growers with 40 acres or less sold
46 percent of their watermelons to itinerant truckers (cabte-.. This
was the most often used source of disposal for these growers. *This group
also sold 85 percent of their watermelons on an individual-load basis,
while the larger growers sold only 38 percent of their loads in this
mannerI'C 2-)

Over one-half of the watermelons sold by the larger growers were
sold on the basis of arrangements made either before or after their crops
were planted but before harvest began. Th -grup-ldS -pent-
therTestagtr s-stkrgTrtaiiers-r-They knew that once the harvest
season began they would need help in selling the volume of watermelons
they had for harvest; thus, early arrangements were made for disposal
of their crops.

TABLE 6.--Point at which growers relinquished control of watermelons
during the selling process, by size of grower, Florida, 1960

Acres per Grower
Under 40-79 80-119 120 and All
40 over Growers

Percent of Sales:

Loaded on truck
at the field 57 54 36 36 45
Loaded on truck
at central
loading point 22 28 48 20 29
Loaded on rail-
road cars 12 15 14 42 23
Delivered to
terminal market 3 3 2 2 2
In the field in
bulk 5 .. .. .. 1
Individual melons
on the vine 1 .. .. .. a

Total 100 100 100 100 100

aLess than one-half of 1 percent.

Price Determination

Three general methods were used in arriving at the price of
watermelons. Some growers accepted without protest the price offered by
buyers. Some set a minimum price and refused to sell at a lower figure.
Others bargained with buyers for the best price obtainable. For all
growers, there was no appreciable difference in the manner in which the
selling price was determined (Table 8). "However, in 60 percent of the
cases reported, the larger growers accepted the price offered by the
buyer.~,t first thought, this may appear unusual but when one considers
how the larger growers sold, it is quite logical that this relationship
existed. These growers often made arrangements for one or more cash
buyers to handle their watermelons for the market price the day they were
shipped. Under this type of arrangement, the growers usually accepted
the price offered without argument. The method most often used by the
two groups of smaller growers to arrive at the selling price was to
bargain with the buyer.

TABLE 7.--Time arrangements were made for the sale of watermelons, by
size of grower, Florida, 1960

Time Acres per Grower
Under 40-79 80-119 120 and All
40 over Growers

Number of Growers:

Before each load 45 31 14 6 96
Before harvest
season 3 4 1 3 11
Before planting 4 5 3 6 18
During harvest
season 1 .. .. 1 2

Total 53 40 18 16 127a

Percent of Growers:

Before each load 85 77 78 38 75
Before harvest
season 6 10 5 18 9
Before planting 7 13 17 38 14
During harvest
season 2 .. .. 6 2

Total 100 100 100 100 100

aSome growers
their crops.

had different arrangements for different parts of

The price of watermelons was highest in South Florida and steadily
decreased as the harvest season progressed northward. The method of
price determination most often used by the South Florida growers was to
bargain for the best price possible (Table 9). This is what one .would
expect when there was a sellers' market and the growers were confident
they would be able to sell their watermelons. On the other hand, the
South Florida growers did not often fall in the category of accepting the
price the buyer offered. Most of those who did were probably larger
growers who had arrangements with large buyers to handle their water-
melons at market price.

The most often used method of price determination among North
Florida growers was that of accepting the price offered by the buyer.

TABLE 8.--Methods of price determination for direct sales of watermelons,
by size of grower, Florida, 1960

Acres per Grower
Method Under 40-79 80-119 120 and All
40 over Growers

Number of Growers:

Accept price
buyer offered 16 11 7 6 40
Set minimum price
acceptable 16 7 6 2 33
Bargain for best
deal 18 6 5 2 40

Total 50 24 18 10 113a

Percent of Shipments:

Accept price
buyer offered 32 31 39 60 35
Set minimum price
acceptable 32 26 33 20 30
Bargain for best
deal 36 43 28 20 35

Total 100 100 100 100 100

aSome growers
sell direct.

mentioned more than one method while some did not

There was not as much bargaining among this group as there was among South
Florida growers. When there was a strong buyers' market with a weak price,
as was the situation in the North Florida area, growers were inclined to
take the first offer made. Often they were afraid that they would not
be able to sell if they tried to bargain for a better price. It appears
that when watermelon prices were relatively high, growers felt they were
in a position to bargain. When the market was weak they felt that if
they attempted to bargain with the buyers they would lose their sales.

TABLE 9.--Methods of price determination for direct sales cf watermelons,
by production areas, Florida, 1960

Production Area
North Central South All
Florida Florida Florida Florida

Number of Growers:

Accept price
buyer offered 28 8 4 40
Set minimum price
acceptable 21 5 7 33
Bargain for best
deal 22 9 9 40

Total 71 22 20 113a

Percent of Shipments:

Accept price
buyer offered 39 36 20 35
Set minimum price
acceptable 30 23 35 30
Bargain for best
deal 31 41 45 35

Total 100 100 100 100

aSome growers
sell direct.

mentioned more than one method while some did not

Itinerant Truckers

3i4ne-Bat truckers have established themselves as an important
part of the watermelon market. in-'160- hy-bughtag ppro-ximtely 10
percent of the watermelons sold by Florida growers.9 It is difficult to
get an accurate picture of their over-all operations and their influence
in the market. However, in certain areas their influence is considerable.

This is an estimate based upon an examination of the state road
guard station watermelon passing reports and an estimate of itinerant
trucker movements west of the Suwannee River, which were assumed to be
in the same proportion to the total watermelon shipments as they were
east and south of this line.

Most itinerant truckers had hauled watermelons from Florida
a relatively short period of time. Forty-five percent of those inter-
viewed had been in the business for five years or less (Table 10).
Only 12 percent had been hauling from Florida for more than 15 years.
The 1960 season was the first for many truckers. However, one stated
he had been hauling watermelons from the state for 38 years. The
volume handled varied widely (Table 11). Thirty-eight percent estimated
they would handle five loads or less during the 1960 season, while one
trucker stated that he would buy 150 loads.

TABLE 10.--Number of

years itinerant truckers had
watermelons, Florida, 1960

handled Florida

Years Number of Percent of
Truckers Total

1 5 41 45
6 10 24 26
11 15 15 17
16 or more 11 12

Total 91 100

TABLE 11.--Estimated number of loads of Florida watermelons per itinerant
trucker, Florida, 1960

Loads Number of Percent of
Truckers Total

1 5 35 38
6 10 29 32
11 or more 27 30

Total 91 100

Some truckers started hauling watermelons at the beginning of the
Florida season and continued into other states until the end of the
season in the North. Other truckers were more limited in their operations.
Table 12 shows that 17 percent of those interviewed expected to end the
season with Florida watermelons, while 12 percent hauled from Florida
and planned to haul from more than three other states.

TABLE 12.--Number of states, in addition to Florida, from which itinerant
truckers estimated they would haul watermelons, 1960

Number of States Number of Percent of
Truckers Total

0 15 17
1 32 35
2 19 21
3 14 15
4 or more 11 12

Total 91 100

Table 13 gives the state of destination of the truckers who were
interviewed. These destinations were for those watermelons loaded at time
of interviews. By far the greater number of loads were hauled to
southern states. Most of those loads were about 25,000 pounds or less,
while most loads which the truckers were hauling for freight only ranged
between 30,000 and 40,000 pounds. Itinerant truckers concentrated on
supplying nearby markets. Table 14, which gives the home state of the
itinerant truckers, compares quite closely with Table 13. The comparison
between these two tables tends to support the opinion that most truckers
haul watermelons to their home territory.

Buying Practices

The it4ne-ant truckers' system of contacting growers in order to
buy watermelons was disorganized. When they entered an area few of them
had any idea from whom they would purchase watermelons. In many cases
they did not even know if they would be able to load the kind of water-
melons they wanted and they had only vague knowledge of the price they
would have to pay. When a trucker drove into a watermelon-producing area
he started looking for a grower who had watermelons for sale. The most
often used method of contacting growers was to go to a location that was
being used as a general meeting and loading point (Table 15). Many
growers, especially those with smaller acreages, congregated around such
places until they made contact with a buyer. Another method, used almost
as often, was to ride down the highway looking for watermelons. During
the harvesting season many growers piled watermelons under a tree by the
side of the highway for the purpose of attracting buyers.

TABLE 13.--Destination of itinerant truckers hauling watermelons,
Florida, 1960a

Number of Percent of
Loads Total

Alabama 15 17
South Carolina 11 12
Florida 9 10
Tennessee 8 9
Georgia 7 8

Kentucky 6 7
Ohio 6 7
Virginia 5 6
Louisiana 4 4
Arkansas 4 4

Pennsylvania 3 3
Mississippi 2 2
North Carolina 2 2
Missouri 2 2
Illinois 1 1

New York 1 1
West Virginia 1 1
Connecticut 1 1
Texas 1 1
Unknown 2 2

Total 91 100

aIncludes only the loads of
had at the time of the interviews.

watermelons the itinerant truckers

Some it-nejrant truckers, after establishing contact, returned in
succeeding years to the same grower, but this was not the general practice.
Sfy sv 6-ea f-the rucers interviewed were buying from the
particular grower for the first time. Thus, only 33 percent were dealing
with growers from whom they had bought in previous years.

doe pri awit by the ucke truc-k fwdawtgeng two
diferent periods of time. The price paid by the truckers for watermelons


TABLE 14.--Home state of itinerant truckers hauling watermelons,
Florida, 1960

Number of Percent of
Truckers Total

Alabama 17 18
Florida 15 16
Kentucky 7 8
Georgia 6 7
North Carolina 5 6

Tennessee 5 6
Virginia 5 6
Mississippi 5 6
Arkansas 5 6
South Carolina 4 4

Louisiana 3 3
Pennsylvania 3 3
West Virginia 2 2
Missouri 2 2
Connecticut 1 1

Illinois 1 1
Indiana 1 1
New Jersey 1 1
New York 1 1
Ohio 1 1
Texas 1 1

Total 91 100

during each of these periods varied considerably (Table 16). The price
level apparently influenced the method by which price was determined.
Table 16 shows that during the high price period, May 17 to June 3, price
of 76 percent of the loads was arrived at by the trucker paying the going
price with no effective bargaining. This was a "sellers' market" period.
The period June 13 to June 29 was one of a "buyers' market" and the
price was considerably lower. Under these conditions the prices of 53
percent of the loads were arrived at by a process of bargaining between
truckers and growers.

TABLE 15.--Methods used by itinerant truckers in contacting watermelon
growers, Florida, 1960a

Method Number of Percent of
Truckers Total

Met at centralized loading point 33 36
Saw his watermelons while riding
on highway 32 35
Was referred to him 19 21
Bought other commodities from
grower earlier 4 5
Through a truck broker 1 1
Saw sign advertising watermelons 1 1
Stopped at grower's house while
looking for watermelons 1 1

Total 91 100

aFor loads truckers had at time of interviews.

TABLE 16.--Price of watermelons and method used by itinerant truckers in
determining price, by dates, Florida, 1960

Item May 17- June 13- May 17- June 13-
June 3 June 29 June 3 June 29

Average price for
period (cents
per pound) 2.99 1.09 2.99 1.09

Number of Loads Percent

Method of price

Pay going price 22 29 76 47
Bargain for best buy 7 33 24 53

Total 29 62 100 100

The general price level apparently influenced the quality of
watermelons bought by truckers.' During the high-price period, 38 percent
of the watermelons bought were culls (T ble 17). During the period of
low price, only 3 percent were cullsr(-his relationship tends to
substantiate the belief of many in the industry that itinerant truckers
haul poor quality watermelons to market especially during periods of
high prices.

TABLE 17.--Grades of watermelons bought by itinerant truckers, by dates,
Florida, 1960

May 17- June 13- May 17- June 13-
June 3 June 29 June 3 June 29
Number of Loads Percent
Field run 18 60 62 97
Cullsa 11 2 38 3

Total 29 62 100 100

aWatermelons which had been graded out of previous loadings.

Sales Outlets

In disposing of their watermelons on the terminal markets the
itinerant truckers used a variety of outlets. (Table 18). Independent
retailers and jobbers were used extensively. Sometimes truckers would sell
directly to these two types of buyers at their places of business, but
often the sales were made on produce markets. Of the sales made directly
to consumers, some were peddled from the trucks while others were sold
through fruit and vegetable stands operated by the truckers.

Watermelon Handlers 7 9d -- (? /.

The 28 handlers interviewed handled approximately 9,723 units
of watermelons during the 1960 season. These units included both rail
carloads and truckloads and were about 47 percent of the total 1960
Florida shipments.10 The size of operators' activities ranged from 40

1Total 1960 Florida shipments were 24,628 carlot equivalents of
which 85 percent were shipped by truck. The conversion factor for a
carlot equivalent is 28,000 pounds. A sample of handlers' invoices gave
the average truckload as 1.216 carlot equivalents. Using an 85 percent
truck shipment and 1.216 conversion factor from truckloads to carloads
the 9,723 units shipped by the 28 handlers equaled 11,507 carlot equiva-
lents. This was about 47 percent of the total Florida shipments.

TABLE 18.--Types of buyers to whom itinerant truckers sold watermelons,
Florida, 1960

Number of Percent of
Type of Buyer Buyers Total

Independent retailers 53 32
Jobbers 45 27
Direct to consumers 39 23
Chain stores 30 18

Total 167a 100

aSome truckers gave more than one type of buyer.

units per season to nearly 2,000.

Marketing Activities

Small handlers often operated alone; the same individual handling
both buying and selling. Some small handlers operated partnerships.
One partner bought at the shipping point and the partner on the terminal
market handled the sales.

Method of Operation

Small handlers bought 79 percent of the watermelons they handled,
while the large handlers bought only 54 percent of their total volume
(Table 19). The large handlers were well-established firms which had
been in the watermelon business fnr a number of years and were well known
by the growers. When a grower ee his watermelons f.o.b. he was not
especially selective as to whom he sLsI, but when he pick a broker to
sell for his account he was much more particular. Perhaps this explains
w1y the small handlers, who were largely individuals new in the business,
b suca high percentage of their watermelons, while the large
handlers boagt-a smaller proportion of their volume. The large handlers
also shipped more of their watermelons on a brokerage basis than d1 the
small ones.

Sixty-one percent of the watermelons shipped by all handlers were
bought f.o.b. shipping point by the handler for resale, while only 21
percent were handled on a brokerage basis and 18 percent of the shipments
were those in which the handlers had some financial interest in producing.
Individual handlers varied greatly in these operations. Eleven reported
that their entire operations were handled on an outright purchase basis

(i.e., they produced no watermelons nor did they handle any on a
brokerage basis). Some stated that they liked to operate as buyers
because it prevented disputes and ill feelings with growers. There
were no handlers who operated entirely as brokers, even though one
stated that 90 percent of his operations were as a broker and he
financed the production of the other 10 percent. This was the only
respondent among the handlers who did not buy at least 15 percent of the
watermelons he handled.

TABLE 19.--Method of

operation of watermelon handlers, by size
Florida, 1960

of handler,

Units per Handlera
Method of ..
Operation 0-199 200-399 400 and All
over Handlers

Percent of Handlers:

As a buyer 79 71 54 61
As a selling broker 13 20 22 21
Handling own
watermelonsb 8 9 24 18

Total 100 100 100 100

"Units" refers to one carload or one truckload of watermelons.
In figuring total volume, handlers usually did not differentiate between
the two.
"Own watermelons" refers to those which the handler had a
financial interest in producing.

Types of Sales

Sixty percent of all sales made by the handlers interviewed were
on a delivered basis (Table 20). Small handlers used this type of sale
92 percent of the time while the large handlers sold only 50 percent of
their volume on this basis. A'possible explanation of this difference is
the fact that delivered sales have an implication of distrust of the
shipper by the buyer. Small handlers, in general, were relatively new

llDelivered sales refer to transactions in which the rhpper
assumes the risk in transit and the price is determined on a termin-f---.
market basis. The watermelons must also meet size and quality specifi-
cations at the terminal market.

in the business; therefore, they had not developed a reputation for fair
dealings. On the other hand, large handlers hSMbeen in the business for
many years and Jf.-well known in the watermelon industry." For large
handlers, an often used type of sale (44 percent of the time) JAs f.o.b.12
while small handlers used this method only 8 percent of the time(2-roint
account sales and consigned sales uhgg rarely used by any of the handlers.
Thedt i.wGypeme-t-t-e-e nl- rcent of the total. Most of these
were made by the large handlers. As a general rule, handlers neither
consigned nor handled on joint account unless they had no other method
of disposing of watermelons. Apparently large handlers, at times, found
they had more watermelons than they could sell. The only alternatives
then were to have them handled on joint account or on consignment.

TABLE 20.--Types of sales made by watermelon handlers, by size of handler,
Florida, 1960

Units per Handler
Type of Sale
400 and All
0-199 200-399 oe Handlers
over Handlers

Percent of Handlers:

Delivered 92 76 50 60
F.o.b. 8 23 44 36
Joint account 4 3
Consigned .. 1 2 1

Total 100 100 100 100

Selling Charges

SOn the average, handlers made selling charges of $40.00 per carload
and $46.00 per truckload. However, charges made by different handlers
varied considerably. They ranged from $25.00 per unit by one small
handler (who reported that he handled on brokerage) to $75.00 per unit
charged by one of the large onesb(ome had one charge for rail carloads
and a higher charge for truckloads. In each case where charges differed,
the amount for truckloads was greater than for rail carloads. Many

12F.o.b. sales, as used here, refer to transactions in which it
was the responsibility of the shipper to deliver to the shipping point
watermelons of the grade and size agreed upon. The price was determined
at the shipping point.

mentioned that there were more inconveniences involved in selling truck-
loads; they were harder to keep up with. Also, more watermelons were
loaded per truckload. Seven of the 12 who gave a list of charges had
the same price for both rail and truck. The large handlers had a higher
charge than did smaller ones for both types of loads (Table 21). Perhaps
this was because they enjoyed an established reputation in the industry
and growers were willing to pay more, thinking that large handlers could
get better prices on brokerage sales. On the other hand, the small
handlers were comparative newcomers to the industry who did not enjoy
the confidence of the growers.

TABLE 21.--Average charges for selling watermelons, by size of handler,
Florida, 1960

Units per Handler
Unit Sold 400 and All
0-199 200-399
over Handlers
Dollars per Unit:

Railroad car 25 34 50 40
Truckload 25 41 57 46

Sales Outlets

The average handler sold 57 percent of the watermelons he handled
to chain stores, 41 percent to other terminal outlets and 2 percent to
itinerant truckers 19i 2 The average cash buyer sold a higher pro-
portion to chains and a smaller proportion to other terminal outlets than
was true for the other handler group.

Snce rha~a-&feqre gIrou ps- did---nut1: n-'eontreip ref-t-
ses from recent shown in Table 22 is less than their
actual market impact. Some of the large chain stores had their own buyers
in the field purchasing watermelons direct from the growers. Growers were
not often aware which buyers had chain connections nor did handlers know
the volume of direct chain purchases from growers. Chains also bought
heavily from watermelon handlers because they considered it too expensive
to maintain a field staff large enough to supply their needs at all times.
Small chains did not have a field staff buying watermelons; consequently,
they depended primarily upon handlers to furnish their needs at all times.

To a large extent, chain stores bought watermelons without
inspection and hauled in trucks with sales on a delivered basis (Table 23).
Since they bought on a delivered basis, they did not need the protection
offered by Government inspection--consequently, the low rate of inspection.

TABLE 22.--Proportion of handlers' sales made to chains, other terminal
buyers and itinerant truckers, by type and size of handler,
Florida, 1960

Units per Handler and Type
Type of Buyer 400 and
0-199 200-399 over Average

Cash Buyer
Chain 58 71 58 63
Other Terminal 42 28 41 36
Itinerant Trucker 1 1 1

Total 100 100 100 100

Other Handlersa

Chain 29 56 44 47
Other Terminal 71 38 51 48
Itinerant Trucker 6 5 5

Total 100 100 100 100

All Handlers

Chain 52 67 52 57
Other Terminal 48 31 46 41
Itinerant Trucker 2 2 2

Total 100 100 100 100

aIncludes selling brokers and handlers selling their own water-

The primary reason for the high rate of truck transportation was that they
could get a number of store-door deliveries from the same truckload. This
eliminated much of the terminal market rehandling necessary with rail
deliveries. The jobbers purchased more on an f.o.b. basis with higher
rates of inspection and rail deliveries.

Distribution of Shipments

Handlers' shipments were primarily to states of
concentration in the Northeast and Midwest (Table 24).
noticeably with the distribution of itinerant truckers'
Southeast (Table 13).

heavy population
This contrasted
shipments in the

Y-11 go

TABLE 23.--Type of sale, type of transportation, and inspection of water-
melons, by type of buyer, Florida, 1960a

Type of Buyer
ChanItem Other
Chain therminalb Othersc All
Terminal Handlers

Type of Sale:
Delivered 63 29 79 42
F.o.b. 37 71 21 58

Total 100 100 100 100

Type of Transportation:

Truck 91 59 81 70
Rail 9 41 19 30

Total 100 100 100 100


Inspected 19 45 59 38
Not inspected 81 55 41 62

Total 100 100 100 100

aData obtained from shippers' invoices.

Individuals or firms buying watermelons for resale

to retailers.

COthers included sales to the military and to retailers, other
than chains.

Percentages were computed on the basis of units sold and do not
refer to weight or number of watermelons.

Financing Production

Thirty-two percent of all handlers interviewed financed water-
melon production (Table 25). A much higher proportion (57 percent) of the
large handlers performed this service. Of the nine handlers who financed
production, five were from Florida. They financed a total of 2,940 acres.
The four from out-of-state financed a total of 905 acres. Most of the
funds used in financing were the handlers' own; two Florida handlers were
the only ones who reported using money other than their own and it came
from local banks.

-eK ea


TABLE 24.--States of destination of handlers' watermelon shipments,
Florida, 1960a

Number of Percent of
State Shipments Total

New York 119 17
Pennsylvania 90 13
Ohio 60 8
Florida 44 6
New Jersey 43 6

Canada 39 5
Michigan 38 5
Connecticut 33 5
Illinois 32 5
Massachusetts 23 3

Virginia 18 3
Louisiana 17 2
West Virginia 15 2
Indiana 14 2
South Carolina 13 2

Maryland 11 2
Kentucky 10 1
Wisconsin 10 1
Washington, D. C. 9 1
Maine 7 1

Missouri 7 1
New Hampshire 7 1
North Carolina 7 1
Rhode Island 5 1
Texas 5 1

Georgia 4 1
Alabama 3 b
Other states 10 1
Unknown 20 3

Total 713 100

aData taken from handlers' shipping invoices.

bLess than one-half of 1 percent.

CNo state received more than two loads.

TABLE 25.--Number and proportion of watermelon handlers who financed
production, by sizes of handler, Florida, 1960

Units per Number of Percent of
Handler Handlers Total

0 199 2 25
200 399 3 23
400 and over 4 57
All handlers 9 32

The financing of watermelon production by handlers appear to be
declining even though it was still an important source of supply for
some. While there were no statistics available for comparing different
time periods, none of the handlers interviewed were increasing their
activities in this field. Most of those who financed watermelon pro-
duction in 1960 were either decreasing this operation or else quitting
completely. Of the nine handlers who financed production, eight stated
they began in order to obtain a dependable volume. However, it was the
opinion of most that this need was no longer present. Some handlers
gave additional reasons for financing production; two stated that they
did it in order to make money from production and two said that they
did it as a favor to a friend or relative.


The thinking of those in the industry seemed to be an important
consideration in an evaluation of the effects of any watermelon mar-
keting program. Consequently, attitudes and opinions concerning certain
pertinent points were determined for those groups involved.


Growers' opinions of other segments of the industry apparently
influenced the way they sold their watermelons and to a large extent
their attitudes concerning possible changes in market structure.

Attitudes and Opinions

Shipping-Point Inspection

SFifty percent of the growers interviewed were in favor of com-
pulsory shipping-point inspection of watermelons, 35 percent were opposed,
and 15 percent, undecided. Table 26 shows that there was no appreciable
difference among the various sizes of growers in their attitude toward
compulsory inspection!. '.(.N.

N< When questioned as to their reasons for favoring compulsory
inspection, 56 of the 60 growers who answered in the affirmative did so
because they felt that it would help keep poor quality watermelons off
the market. Table 27 gives a complete listing of reasons why the growers
favored compulsory shipping-point inspection.

Growers who opposed compulsory shipping-point inspection were
not as uniform in their reasons for opposing as those who favored it
were in their reasons for favoring. The most common reason given in
opposition was dissatisfaction with the quality of inspection service
which was available (Table 28). Some growers questioned the honesty of
the inspectors, some questioned their capabilities, while others
complained about inspectors being unavailable when needed. The next
most important reason for opposing compulsory shipping-point inspection
Swas that growers were afraid they would not be able to sell all their
watermelons. This reason was expressed more by smaller growers who also
were the group who sold most often to itinerant truckers.

TABLE 26.--Growers' opinions on compulsory shipping-point inspection of
watermelons, by size of grower, Florida, 1960

Acres per Grower
Under 40-79 80-119 120 and All
40 over Growers
Number of Growers:

Favor 25 21 8 6 60
Do not favor 20 13 5 4 42
No opinion 6 6 4 2 18

Total 51 40 17 12 120

Percent of Growers:

Favor 49 52 47 50 50
Do not favor 39 33 29 33 35
No opinion 12 15 24 17 15

Total 100 100 100 100 100

TABLE 27.--Reasons why growers favored compulsory shipping-point inspection
of watermelons, Florida, 1960a

Number of Percent of
Reason GrowersD Total

Keep poor quality watermelons
off the market 56 67
Would increase returns to growers 17 20
Would decrease supply of wate ~ons 5 6
Would decrease disputes with buyers 3 4
Protect growersl-interests 2 2
Centralize sales and thus
standardize price 1 1

Total 84 100

Only those who favored compulsory shipping-point inspection
were included.

Some growers gave more than one reason.


TABLE 28.--Reasons why growers opposed compulsory shipping-point inspection
of watermelons, Florida, 1960

n Number of Percent of
Growersb Total

Unsatisfactory inspection service 25 31
Grower would not be able to sell
all his watermelons 15 19
Too much bother 12 15
Would cost too much 12 15
No need for inspection 10 12
Too much governmental interference 3 4
Would help buyers and hurt growers 2 3
Small growers have to sell in field 1 1

Total 80 100

aOnly those who opposed compulsory shipping-point inspection
were included.

Some growers gave more than one reason.

Cooperative Marketing

Sixty-three percent of all growers interviewed stated they were
in favor of marketing their watermelons through a cooperative (Table 29).
However, many of those who thought a watermelon marketing cooperative
would be desirable had reservations about its chances of success. The
opinion encountered most often was that a cooperative would be a good
idea "if you could get the growers to cooperate." Another often heard
comment was that a cooperative would be a good thing "if it was run
right." The concern, on the part of many growers, that a cooperative
would not be run right was based on the fear that a few individuals would
get control of the organization. Those in control would then operate
it for their own selfish interests.

The reason most often given for favoring a cooperative was that
it would prevent individual growers from underselling one another
(Table 30). Many growers felt that the market was affected adversely
by individual growers dropping the price during the process of bargaining
<'Z.with buyers, especially with itinerant truckers. The second most
important reason for favoring a cooperative was that one would place the
growers in a stronger bargaining position and thereby help maintain a
reasonable price.

TABLE 29.--Growers' opinions on marketing through a cooperative, by size
of grower, Florida, 1960

Acres per Grower
Under 40-79 80-119 120 and All
40 over Growers

Number of Growers:

Favor 38 21 12 5 76
Do not favor 6 8 1 2 17
No opinion 7 11 4 5 27

Total 51 40 17 12 120

Percent of Growers:

Favor 74 53 71 42 63
Do not favor 12 20 6 16 14
No opinion 14 27 23 42 23

Total 100 100 100 100 100

TABLE 30.--Reasons why growers favored marketing watermelons through a
cooperative, Florida, 1960a

Reason Number of Percent of
Growers Total

Growers would not be under-
selling each other 52 42
Better bargaining position 42 34
Be easier to sell watermelons 13 11
Would have specialists to
handle selling 11 9
Would cost less to sell watermelons 1 1
Cut out broker 1 1
Keep poor quality watermelons
off the market 1 1
Would have better distribution
of watermelons 1 1

Total 122 100

aOnly those who favored a watermelon marketing cooperative were
bSome growers gave more than one reason.

4 /_ -

The reasons growers gave for being opposed to selling their
watermelons through a cooperative were quite varied, as indicated by
Table 31. No one reason was mentioned by more than five growers.

TABLE 31.--Reasons why growers opposed marketing watermelons
cooperative, Florida, 1960a

through a

Number of Percent of
Reason Growersb Total

Grower could make more by
selling own watermelons 5 23
Would receive no benefit 5 23
Growers would not cooperate 3 14
Just wouldn't work 3 14
Another middleman to get his cut 3 14
Just does not believe in cooperatives 1 4
Wants his money when he sells 1 4
Watermelons are too big a deal for
a cooperative to handle 1 4

Total 22 100

aOnly those growers who opposed a watermelon cooperative were

Some growers gave more than one reason.

Marketing Agreement

JL-was--teo-opinion--cf the-wr-itersthat-t-he termelon growers,
as a group, were not familiar with the purpose nor the method of operation
of Federal marketing agreements and orders. In questioning growers on
this point, the writers made certain that the question was not misinter-
preted by the respondent. Growers knew that a Federal marketing agree-
ment and order was under discussion." When questioned concerning their
knowledge of marketing agreements, only 41 of the 120 responding growers
expressed any knowledge concerning their purpose or method of operation. '(
Table 32 shows the familiarity with marketing agreements by size of
grower. There was a definite relationship between size of grower and his
knowledge of marketing agreements. A greater percentage of the larger
growers were familiar with them.

T b'erowe S-W oes sed Kwede of ma ftngagr eeme
wae questioned as to whether they favored one for watermelons. Except
for the largest growers, 50 percent favored a marketing agreement, while
for this one group only 29 percent favored one (Table 33). Fifty-one
percent of all growers were opposed.


TABLE 32.--Familiarity of watermelon growers with the operation of
marketing agreements, by size of grower, Florida, 1960

Acres per Grower
Familiarity Under 40-79 80-119 120 and All
40 over Growers

Number of Growers:

Familiar 12 14 8 7 41
Not familiar 39 26 9 5 79

Total 51 40 17 12 120

Percent of Growers:

Familiar 24 35 47 58 34
Not familiar 76 65 53 42 66

Total 100 100 100 100 100

TABLE 33.--Desirability of a watermelon marketing agreement,
grower, Florida, 1960a

by size of

Acres per Grower
Opinion Under 4079 80-119 120 and All
40 over Growers

Number of Growers:

Favor 6 7 4 2 19
Do not favor 6 6 4 5 21
No opinion 1 .. .. 1

Total 12 14 8 7 41

Percent of Growers:

Favor 50 50 50 29 46
Do not favor 50 43 50 71 51
No opinion .7 .. 3

Total 100 100 100 100 100

the operations

aOnly those growers who expressed familiarity with
of marketing agreements were included.

Of the 19 growers who favored a marketing agreement, 17 gave
as a reason that one could keep low-quality watermelons off the market.
Table 34 gives all reasons expressed. Those who opposed marketing agree-
ments had a wide variety of reasons, as shown in Table 35. No one
reason can be singled out as being of prime importance.

TABLE 34.--Reasons why growers favored a watermelon marketing agreement,
Florida, 1960a

Number of Percent of
Reason Growersb Total

Keep low-quality watermelons
off the market 17 76
Standardize grades and sizes (Fr 2 9
Limit supply moving to market 1 5
Would stabilize the industry 1 5
Keep growers informed as to
acreage and yield 1 5

Total 22 100

aOnly those growers who favored a watermelon marketing agree-
ment were included.

some growers gave more than one reason.

Suggestions for Improving Watermelon Marketing,--

Whe ked for suggestions for improving,the- watermelon market,
a wide variety o`a wers were given by growers. ome gave numerous
suggestions while other S-gve none. Compuls y shipping-point inspection,
marketing cooperatives, and c aetinga events were excluded from
possible answers because they had discussed as separate topics. The
suggestions ranged from acreage otm s, which were mentioned by 34
growers, to vertical integrion, which wa mentioned by one grower. In

Market was to re ce the supply of watermelons availa for market.
Acreage allot nt was mentioned so often it was listed se ately in
Table 36 wl i e all other methods of reducing supply were combined into
one cate ory. In all, 48 growers made direct suggestions that supl be
reduce aThe next most often mentioned remedy was to market only goo -
qutaity watermelons. This would also reduce supply.

i; r

TABLE 35.--Reasons why growers opposed a watermelon
Florida, 1960a

marketing agreement,

Reason Number of Percent of
Growersb Total

Too much governmental
interference 0 5 19
Would do no good\ 5 19
Grower would not be able to
sell all his watermelons 5 19
Wrong people would run it 3 11
Would make less money 2 7
Grower could not sell watermelons
like he wants to 2 7
Supply and demand establishes
the market 2 7
Does not want compulsory
inspection 2 7
There is no way to control the
movement of watermelons 1 4

Total 27 100

a0nly those growers who opposed a watermelon marketing agreement
were included.

Some growers gave more than one reason.

Itinerant Truckers

This industry
competitive position.
structure. One would

segment was most concerned with improving its own
They were not queried on changes in market
not expect any group to regulate itself out of an

Attitudes and Opinions

Shipping-Point Inspection

Sixty-one percent of the itinerant truckers interviewed favored
compulsory shipping-point inspection (Table 37). Only 29 percent
disapproved. Some of the truckers who hauled cull watermelons favored
compulsory shipping-point inspection. Even though they did not like to
handle culls, some said they had to buy the cheaper, poor quality


TABLE 36.--Growers' suggestions for improving watermelon marketing,
Florida, 1960

Suggestion Number of Percent of
Growers Total

Acreage allotment 34 30
Reduce supply (other than
acreage allotment) 14) 12
Market only good-quality
watermelons v 14 12
Control middlemen's activities '7 6
Up-to-the-minute market news -J J 6 5
Take Charleston Grey waterimelon
out of production 5 4
Have honest and dependable brokers W 4 4
Keep chain stores from controlling
the market 4 4
Have a set price that all buyers
must pay 3 3
Have a cash market with no
consigned sales 3 3
Have cut-off dates for shipments
from different area _e~L _3 3
State-wide selling organization .2 2
Have sale of watermelons in
strong hands 2 2
More large buyers ., 2 2
Watermelon auction 2 2
Educate the farmers to the ways
of marketing 1 1
Price support 1 / 1 1
Have small-type watermelon / 1 1
More trucks for hauling water-
melons out j 1i) 1 1
Minimum wage for arm labor 1 1
Vertical integration i\ 1 1

Total 111



TABLE 37.--Itinerant truckers' opinions on compulsory shipping-point
inspection of watermelons, Florida, 1960

Number of Percent of
Opinion Truckers Total

Favor 56 61
Oppose 26 29
No opinion 9 10

Total 91 100

watermelons in order to compete with other truckers. When giving reasons
why they favored compulsory shipping-point inspection that most often
mentioned was to keep poor quality watermelons off the market (Table 38).
During the interviews many truckers were quite concerned about the poor
quality watermelons with which they had to compete in the terminal market.
They found it difficult to sell good watermelons for a reasonable price
because someone else was in the same market selling culls at a much
lower price. The statement, "the poor quality watermelon sets the market,"
was often made by the itinerant truckers who wanted to keep poor quality
off the market. They were of the opinion that relatiyelyfew _culs-on
a market could depress the price out of pron-pn-t4on-tto--thei-r--quantity.
The reasons given were that (1) their low selling price caused an
immediate depressing effect on the price of all watermelons and (2) that
many people who bought the culls would be dissatisfied with their quality
and would use fewer watermelons in the future.

The most often voiced objection to compulsory shipping-point
inspection was that the truckers did not need inspection (Table 39).
Without exception, every itinerant trucker acted as his own inspector.
They usually did their own packing. Those who did not pack were on the
trucks looking over every watermelon for quality and size. Most truckers
felt they were able to get the quality watermelons they bargained for
without the help of a government inspector. Of all the truckers inter-
viewed not one had his watermelons inspected by a government inspector.
Since 61 percent of the truckers favored compulsory shipping-point
inspection, one must conclude that they did so for the purpose of regulating

Suggestions for Improving
Watermelon Marketing

Comparing Table 40 with Table 36 one will notice that itinerant
truckers and growers agree to a considerable extent on ways of improving
the watermelon market. The growers were most concerned with reducing --"
supply. Their next most often mentioned suggestion was to market only

TABLE 38.--Reasons why itinerant truckers favored compulsory
point inspection of watermelons, Florida, 1960a


Number of Percent of
Reason Truckersb Total

Keep poor quality watermelons
off the market 35 56
Protect buyers against getting
bad watermelons 15 24
Standardize grades and sizes
going to market 5 8
Easier to sell graded
watermelons 4 6
Less confusion in the market 4 6

Total 63 100

a0nly those truckers who favored compulsory shipping-point
inspection were included.
Some truckers gave more than one reason.

TABLE 39.--Reasons why itinerant truckers opposed compulsory shipping-
point inspection, Florida, 1960a

Number of Percent of
Reason Truckersb Total

Not necessary for trucker's
business 13 42
Small truckers couldn't
operate due to high price 6 19
Grower couldn't sell all his
watermelons 5 16
Too much bother 3 10
Cost too much 2 7
Inspectors too strict 1 3
Too much graft 1 3

Total 31 100

aOnly those truckers who opposed compulsory shipping-point
inspection were included.
bSome truckers gave more than one reason.


TABLE 40.--Itinerant truckers' suggestions for improving watermelon
marketing, Florida, 19608

Suggestion Number of Percent of
Truckers Total

Market only good quality
watermelons 16 31
Reduce quantity of watermelons 6 11
Have uniform price 5 9
No consigned selling 4 8
Regulate chain stores'
operations 4 8
Increase varieties of water-
melons available 3 6
Marketing agreement 2 4
Miscellaneous suggestions 12 23

Total 52 100

aCompulsory shipping-point inspection eliminated as a possible
answer because it had been discussed separately.

bIncludes suggestions made only once.

good quality watermelons. The itinerant truckers also included these as
their two most often mentioned suggestions; however, they reversed their
order, giving quality considerations as most important and supply next.


This group favored supply and quality control and marketing agree-
ments as a means to that end. They, too, were interested in maintaining
their own competitive position.

Attitudes and Opinions

Shipping-Point Inspection

As a group, handlers were almost evenly divided on the question
of compulsory shipping-point inspection. One-half of those interviewed
were opposed, 46 percent favored, and 4 percent were undecided (Table 41).
There appeared to be no relationship between the size of the handlers'
operations and attitude toward this matter. When asked why they favored
compulsory shipping-point inspection, the principal reason stated was a

desire to keep poor quality watermelons off the market (Table 42). Those
who opposed were not in as close an agreement. The most often mentioned
reason for opposition was that it would be of no benefit (Table 43).
Cost was the second most important reason for opposition.

TABLE 41.--Watermelon handlers'
inspection, by size

opinions on compulsory shipping-point
of handler, Florida, 1960

Units per Handler
Opinion 400 and All
0-199 200-399
over Handlers

Percent of Handlers:

Favor 50 38 57 46
Oppose 50 62 29 50
Undecided .14 4

Total 100 100 100 100

TABLE 42.--Reasons why handlers favored compulsory shipping-point inspection
of watermelons, Florida, 1960a

Number of Percent of
Reason b
Handlersb Total

Keep poor quality water-
melons off the market 12 60
Standardize grades and sizes
going to market 4 20
Help eliminate bickering
with buyers 2 10
Help control itinerant
truckers 1 5
Give sellers protection on
terminal market 1 5

Total 20 100

aOnly those handlers who favored compulsory
inspection were included.


bSome handlers gave more than one reason.

TABLE 43.--Reasons why handlers opposed compulsory shipping-point inspection
of watermelons, Florida, 1960a

Reason Number of Percent of
Handlers Total

Would be of no benefit 8 32
Cost too much 7 28
Inspectors are not competent 6 24
Too much bother 2 8
Growers would make more
without it 2 8

Total 25 100

aOnly those handlers who opposed compulsory
inspection were included.

Some handlers gave more than one reason.

Marketing Agreements


Watermelon handlers, as a group, zae in favor of a marketing
agreement. Sixty-one percent were in favor, 28 percent opposed, and 11
percent were undecided. The reason most often mentioned for favoring
a marketing agreement was to keep poor quality watermelons off the market
(Table 44). There was no uniformity of reasoning among those who were
opposed to one. The two most often mentioned reasons were that one would
interfere with the natural marketing process and that inspection would
be too big a job (Table 45).

Suggestions for Improving Watermelon

When asked for suggestions for improving watermelon marketing,
handlers gave a wide range of answers (Table 46). The two suggestions
given most often were: (1) ship only good quality watermelons and (2)
keep chain stores from controlling the market. These same suggestions,
or similar ones, were also prominent among those made by growers and
itinerant truckers.

TABLE 44.--Reasons why handlers favored a watermelon marketing agreement,
Florida, 1960a

Number of Percent of
Reason Handlers Total

Keep low quality watermelons
off the market 16 59
Standardize grades and sizes 5 19
Stabilize the watermelon
industry 2 7
Reduce supply going to market 2 7
Enforce inspection 1 4
Keep small watermelons off
the market 1 4

Total 27 100

only those handlers who favored a marketing agreement were

bSome handlers gave more than one reason.

TABLE 45.--Reasons why handlers opposed a watermelon marketing agreement,
Florida, 1960a

Number of Percent of
Reason Handlersb Total

Interferes with natural
marketing process 3 23
Inspection involved would be
too big a job 3 23
Too much governmental
interference 2 14
Unpleasant experience with
previous one 1 8
Would involve dishonesty and
corruption 1 8
Growers would make more
without one 1 8
Could not be administered fairly 1 8
Poor quality inspection 1 8

Total 13 100

only those handlers who opposed a
were included.

watermelon marketing agreement

bSome handlers gave more than one reason.

TABLE 46.--Handlers' suggestions for improving watermelon
Florida, 1960


Suggstiona Number of Percent of
e Handlersb Total

Ship only good quality
watermelons 4 14
Keep chain stores from
controlling the market 4 14
Control volume of watermelons
going to market 2 7
Grow another variety of
watermelon 2 7
Have competent inspection 2 7
State marketing regulations 2 7
Miscellaneous suggestionsc 13 44

Total 29 100

aMarketing agreements and compulsory shipping-point inspection
were eliminated as possible answers because they had been discussed

Some handlers gave more than one suggestion while others gave

cNo suggestion in this group was given more than once.


Over the 10-year period 1951-60, Florida farmers produced approxi-
mately 22 percent of the total United States volume of watermelons. From
the middle of April until the middle of June, the weekly supply from
Florida accounted for more than two-thirds of the national market volume.
The different climatic conditions in the state permit watermelon shipments
to begin in April and continue into July. Under normal weather conditions
the harvest season progresses from South Florida to the West Florida
panhandle section in an orderly fashion with some overlapping of harvest

Organization of the Watermelon Market

The Florida watermelon market is composed of three, easily dis-
tinguishable, segments: (1) growers, (2) itinerant truckers, and (3)
established watermelon handlers. A sample of each of these segments was
contacted and personal interview methods were used to obtain information
on their marketing practices.


The acreage of watermelons produced per grower varied from five
to 600 acres for those interviewed. Economic abandonment was important to
growers during 1960. Central Florida producers had the highest rate of
abandonment, while those from South Florida had the least.

Small growers sold largely to itinerant truckers who loaded at
or near the watermelon fields. For the greater part, their sales were on
an individual basis. The larger growers sold primarily through brokers
with rail the most often used type of transportation. Sales were made
principally on the basis of arrangements made before harvest for a broker
to handle the entire crop. Medium-size growers sold primarily to estab-
lished buyers on an individual load basis. They used both field and
central loading points extensively. No organized, grower-controlled,
selling efforts were being attempted.

The method used in determining the sale price depended upon the
market situation at the time of sale. When price was high, with a strong
q^_.sellers' market, growers bargained extensively with buyers in an effort
to obtain as high a price as possible for their watermelons. Under
depressed market conditions, growers were more prone to accept the first
offer made by a buyer.

Itinerant Truckers

Itinerant truckers represent an important segment of the water-
melon market structure. Although they handled only 10 to 18 percent of
the total volume of Florida watermelons, other industry segments
(competitors) expressed the belief that their handling of off-grade water-
melons and paying low prices to small growers depressed the price of good
melons. This study indicated that itinerant truckers handled off-grade
melons primarily during periods of high prices. Itinerant truckers
confined their activities to the southeastern United States but sold to
chains, jobbers, retailers and direct to consumers.


Handlers represented one segment of the Florida watermelon industry
which had some semblance of order. They ranged in size of operation from
40 to nearly 2,000 carlots handled per season.

Handlers, on the average, bought 61 percent of the watermelons
they sold. Twenty-one percent were handled on brokerage. The remaining
18 percent were watermelons which they had a financial interest in

Sixty percent of all handler sales were made on a delivered basis,
36 percent f.o.b., and the remaining 4 percent on a joint account or
consigned basis. Small handlers sold largely on a delivered basis while
large handlers used both f.o.b. and delivered sales extensively. Fifty-
seven percent of all handlers' sales went directly to chain stores.

Industry Changes 1960 to 1963

At least two grower cooperatives have been organized for the
purpose of selling watermelons for their members. One of those, organized
in 1961 in North Central Florida, had an initial membership of 40 growers.
It handled about 250 carlot equivalents in 1961 and 150 in 1962. Selling
activities in both years were handled by a local brokerage firm on a fee
basis. Sales were made largely to chain stores and to wholesalers.

The second cooperative, located in South Florida, was organized
in 1962 with an initial membership of 46, 38 of whom marketed through the
organization. Selling was contracted to a large nation-wide broker on a
fee basis. In its first season this organization handled about 25 percent
of the shipments from a three-county area. "Sales distribution was 94
percent to wholesalers, 5 percent to chain stores and about 1 percent to
brokers. 7

The above described organizations are the first tangible efforts
in several years by watermelon growers for more orderly marketing. Other

developments include the use of a sizing belt for watermelons and the
introduction of paperboard cartons with internal dividers to hold two or
three sized melons. Both of these developments, if widely adopted, will
tend to increase the cost of marketing and move the handling-of water-
melons to more central locations in.packinghouses or packingsheds.

There has been little increase in the use of inspection service
by watermelon growers. Their objections, in addition -to the costo-f-
$17.00 per carload, are in terms of increased man ihour inloading and
loss of melonsc0I t frinspection.- -

3e4. tb B34cL Zea/ I


The writers express their sincere appreciation to the watermelon
growers, itinerant truckers, and watermelon handlers who cooperated so
gratuitously in providing most of the data used in this study, and to
Mr. E. F. Scarborough, Florida State Marketing Bureau, for data on truck
passing at road guard stations. Much credit is due Dr. H. G. Hamilton
under whose direction this study was conducted.