July is upon us and what better time of year is there for my favorite fruits — N.C. melons. Melons were among the earliest plants to be domesticated in both the Old and New Worlds; they were among the first crop species brought to the Americas. Early European settlers in the New World are recorded as growing honeydew and casaba melons as early as the 1600s.

Watermelons, cantaloupes, honeydews and other specialty melons begin around the first of July and peak the third week of the month. You will find both seedless and seeded watermelons, Athena cantaloupes, honeydews and specialty melons like the Piel de Sapo or Santa Claus, Canary, Casaba and Crenshaw Melon to name a few. You will find these melons at roadside stands, farmers markets and grocery stores.

Other fruits and vegetables available during July are apples, butterbeans, cabbage, cherry tomatoes, collards, figs, garlic, green onions, kale, nectarines, okra, peaches, pears, snap beans, yellow squash, sweet corn, tomatoes and zucchini.

Growers in general are having a hard time finding adequate labor. However, most of the growers in the state have a large enough labor pool and work together to ensure that the crops are taken care of in a timely fashion. N.C. growers use the latest in post-harvest technology and constantly adhere to GAP and safety measures. Consequently, we expect a very good supply of fruits and vegetables this July.

Nick Augostini, Assistant Director, Horticulture & Seafood – nick.augostini@ncagr.gov