Cantaloupe planting begins in Rocky Ford region of southern Colorado

ROCKY FORD, Colo. - Farmers started planting cantaloupe in southern Colorado this week.

Rocky Ford cantaloupe farmers are putting in more than 550 acres of melons for the summer of 2013, according to the Rocky Ford Growers Association. Officials said that's an almost a 40 percent increase from last year.

However, because of the drought, other crops such as corn, wheat and soybeans won’t get planted this year, officials said.

"This year our challenge is water. We are cutting back on other crops in order to be able to plant enough fresh, sweet and juicy Rocky Ford Cantaloupes," said Michael Hirakata, RFGA Board Chairman.

Hirakata said last year farmers had to deal with increasing consumer confidence in the farmers safety measures.

To ensure safety, the Rocky Ford Growers Association said all of its members will be required to use The Hirakata or L&M Shed to process their melons.