W38: Watermelon Update

In W38 in the watermelon landscape, heavy and extensive rains in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, in the second half of September are causing concerns for watermelon and other crops. Early watermelon-growing regions like Arroio dos Ratos and Encruzilhada do Sul are currently in the stage of plant development where the first branches are emerging, and the impact of the rains remains uncertain. There's potential for reduced productivity, especially if the rainy weather persists, and increased costs for disease control due to frequent rain-related issues. The coming weeks will be crucial in determining crop quality.

Vietnam aims to continue collaboration with China in exporting various agricultural products, including watermelons, refrigerated durians, peppers, medicinal materials, and citrus fruits. Both countries await negotiations for import and export protocols to facilitate smoother bilateral trade and higher growth. From Jan-23 to Aug-23, Vietnam's exports of agricultural, forestry, and fishery products reached USD 33.21 billion, with exports to China amounting to USD 7.28 billion, a 9.8% year-on-year (YoY) increase. China is Vietnam's largest import market for fruits and vegetables, accounting for 22% of total exports in this category. Fruit and vegetable exports to China reached USD 3.45 billion during this period, marking a YoY increase of 57.5%.

Watermelon prices in Australia ranged from USD 3.90 to 4.50 per kilogram due to a supply shortage caused by irregular weather patterns in the Northern Territory. The prices are forecasted to decrease as more fruit arrives from northern Queensland. Despite the higher prices, experts note that the watermelons currently available are sweeter due to the recent hot and dry weather.

Watermelon prices in Ukrainian wholesale markets ranged from USD 0.48 to 2.70/kg (UAH 17.90 to 99.90/kg). Ukrainian farmers have harvested 590 tons of melons in the Kherson region and plan to deliver 200 tons of watermelons and 100 tons of melons to Romania and Germany. Some Ukrainian regions, like Rivne, have also ventured into watermelon cultivation. Despite differences in climate compared to the southern regions, local farmers are confident in the quality of their watermelons. Increased supply has led to decreasing watermelon prices in the Ukrainian market, driven by accelerated ripening due to hot weather conditions. This is a response to the previous year's shortage caused by regional conflicts, prompting cultivation in different regions.

Lastly, Uzbekistan has significantly increased its watermelon exports for the second consecutive year, reaching nearly 96 thousand tons between May and August 2023, a 17% increase from the previous record. This surge is attributed to an earlier start of the export season and increased shipment volumes at the beginning of the 2023/24 season. Uzbek producers have shifted to growing early watermelon varieties in unheated greenhouses, allowing them to enter the market sooner and compete globally. Farmers in the Kashkadarya region are particularly adopting this approach, enabling them to bring new watermelon crops to the market approximately ten days earlier each year. This shift in timing and an emphasis on early varieties have boosted exports, with early watermelons commanding higher prices. However, further export growth may rely on expanding into non-traditional markets to reduce dependence on existing ones.

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