(07/27/22) ZACHARY, La. — Who can resist the taste of a cold, sweet Washington Parish watermelon? Not many it seems by the briskness of sales over the past month or so.
Watermelon sales tend to reach their zenith coming into the Fourth of July holiday each year. For two young produce salesmen in Zachary, the sales are slower now, but they still stick with it.
Bryce Naquin, 14, is a freshman at Zachary High School, and his brother Christopher, 12, is in eighth grade at Northwestern Middle School.
During the summer months, they spend their days under a big umbrella beside their trailer filled with Washington Parish goodness just south of Slaughter on La. Highway 19.
Christopher said they started selling watermelons from Florida back in April, but he looks forward to the melons from Washington Parish coming in.
“The Florida melons are sweet, but they are not quite as sweet or as big as the ones from Washington Parish,” he said.
Bryce said they will be there or at their other location on Old Scenic Highway for the next few weeks before they get ready to go back to school.
LSU AgCenter horticulture agent Mary Helen Ferguson said the time it takes to grow a good melon is normally 90 days.
“It has a lot to do with the variety that you are growing and whether you plant from seed or from transplants,” she said.
Perry Talley, a Washington Parish grower, said he believes it’s a combination of factors that come together to make Washington Parish melons better.
“I believe it has a lot to do with the soil type, the soil fertility and the pH of the soil,” he said. “All of these things kind of come together to give you a good quality melon.”
Watermelons are a new venture for the two young entrepreneurs. The brothers said they are known locally for selling all types of vegetables, but mainly for their dad’s Naquin Tomato Farm.
“A lot of people know us from our Naquin tomatoes,” Bryce said. “We don’t grow as many as we did, but we still sell some from our garden.”
Sonya Sharp came to buy watermelons, but soon realized that she knew the brothers when they were younger.
“I always called Naquin Farm my happy place. You guys were really small back then,” she said. “Those were the best tomatoes. I believe I need to place an order.”
If you are not sure how to pick a good watermelon, growers say you may want to either slap or thump the melon. Listen to the sound the melon makes to see if it sounds hollow or solid. As the melons get ripe, they will have a hollower sound, and the less ripe ones will be more solid.
The brothers say they don’t sell any produce during school, but as soon as Florida has melons in the spring, they will be back with more.
Bryce and Christopher Naquin show off their sweet and juicy Washington Parish watermelons at their produce stand just north of Zachary on La. Highway 19. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter
Bryce Naquin talks to customer Sonya Sharp about the watermelons he and his brother Christopher sell just north of Zachary. Sharp previously bought Naquin tomatoes from their dad. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter