Pecos County Farmers Closely Monitoring Cantaloupe Crops

by Diane Tuazon
NewsWest 9

PECOS COUNTY - As summer heats up, Pecos County farmers are watching their cantaloupe crops hoping this year is better than last, but they're facing some problems.

"We've been growing cantaloupes for 15 years. As long as we're farmers, we'll always be growing cantaloupes," Pecos County Farmer, Armando Mandujano, said.

Armando Mandujano and his brothers are trying to remain hopeful.

"Looks like this year, we're pretty much on track. We usually don't have a quality problem but more of a quantity problem," Mandujano said.

The Mandujano Family is the only main supplier for cantaloupes in the area,  but Armando says maintaining their crops can become difficult at times.

"You can't control the weather. Once we get a plant stand, they eat the two leaf plant and that becomes a probem. The other problem is labor. Too much of it, so we do 120 acres of it," Mandujano said.

Armando says overall cantaloupes aren't the easiest crops to harvest.

"The other problem is the shelf life isn't long. So we have to pick it everyday and if it rains we may lose some that day, there's just more risk involved in cantaloupes than other crops," Mandujano said.

"Reeves County is venturing out to other deals. Cantaloupes just has too much cost involved with it, labor cost and fertilizer cost. Right now, the big money maker is alfalfa," Reeves County Extension Agent, Logan Lair, said.

Lair says it's not just the high fuel prices that's effecting their cantaloupe crops, but keeping bugs out as well.

"There's a lot of varieties of insects that attack food crops, on top of that there's mold," Lair said.

It's not just the insects ruining their crops, but animals as well.

"We have a pretty good problem with controlling coyotes and hogs. They're really migrating in pretty fast," Lair said.

The Mandujano family says they're hoping for more cantaloupes this season compared to last year, but for right now they're relying on other crops to keep the business going.

"We're doing a lot of less labor intensive crops like pepper, watermelon, onions. They just have less labor than cantaloupes. It's gotten down in the county, we're the only ones left harvesting them," Mandujano said.