A 1946 USDA study in which the AAR's Freight Claim Division was a
participant stated that the majority of watermelons shipped from Florida were
loaded into ventilated box cars, though both refrigerator and stock cars were
also used. Stock car shipments of watermelons were dominant from the other
Southern states, but also were supplemented by refrigerator and ventilator
cars along with a regular box car now and then.
In 1951, your year of modeling interest, there were 25,536 car loads of
watermelons shipped. Just two years earlier, a 1949 study showed that the
dominant variety of watermelons from the Southeast was the Black Diamond.
That study examined watermelons delivered to 43 markets nationwide. Of the
6,776 cars inspected for damage; 1,274 were ventilated box cars, 3,788 were
stock cars, 1,712 were refrigerator cars and 2 were box cars.
Unfortunately, the tabulation does not show the break down of the car types from the
various regions though it does show that 1,369 of the 6,776 cars originated
from the Southeast.
Regarding your thoughts on the harvest of watermelons. The Florida
harvest generally ran from May 1st thru mid August with June being the most
productive month usually totaling over 75% of Florida's annual crop.
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