Kyle Tisdale, Watermelon Promotion Marketing Specialist
(W) 803-734-0347


Learn more at


Welcome to the South Carolina Watermelon Board, a farmer-led organization established for the main purpose of increasing consumer awareness and consumption of watermelon while creating a positive economic impact for producers.

The South Carolina Watermelon Board consists of nine watermelon producers and a research scientist who serves as an adviser. The Watermelon Board supports several different research projects each year and is involved in collecting watermelon assessments for the Checkoff Program. The growers pay an assessment for each pound of watermelons sold and the funds collected are used for educational and research programs.

As you navigate through our site, you will have many opportunities to learn about South Carolina watermelons and what our organization does to promote our favorite product. The information here is provided as an educational tool in the production and harvesting of watermelons, but it also serves as a reminder of the many health benefits of our product.

For major retail and wholesale buyers, the Watermelon Board offers farm tours throughout our production regions. These tours are designed to showcase the industry and to give buyers a better perspective on our shipping capabilities. The Board advertises in industry publications to reach out to buyers and participates in events such as the Eastern Produce Council which represents the major retail and wholesale buying power in this important market.

As you scroll down this page, you will notice several links to sections about the South Carolina Watermelon Board’s education and research of watermelons. We hope that you will use these resources and come back to visit often to see what new and exciting information has been added about the The Palmetto State’s watermelon industry.

Our goal is simple. We promote the South Carolina watermelon industry and encourage consumers to EAT MORE WATERMELON!

Be sure to visit the National Watermelon Promotion Board for more information about the watermelon.

Watermelon Checkoff Program

What is a checkoff program?

A checkoff is an industry-funded generic marketing and research program designed to increase domestic and/or international demand for an agricultural commodity. This can be done through promotion, research and new product development, and a variety of other marketing tools. These programs are similar to businesses funded by shareholders (producers, processors, handlers, importers, etc.) with a board of directors that is accountable to the shareholders.

Who pays for the checkoff?

Each checkoff program is supported entirely by its respective industry, which could include U.S. producers, processors, handlers and importers. NO TAXPAYER OR GOVERNMENT FUNDS ARE INVOLVED. Contribution rates vary with the different checkoffs, but they are always based on a percentage of net sales or assessed at a set rate per production unit. Checkoff program participants contribute at the same program rate, no matter where their operation is located.

How do checkoffs benefit producers, processors, or importers?

The fundamental goal of every checkoff program is to increase commodity demand, thereby increasing the potential long-term economic growth of all sectors of the industry.

Do checkoffs benefit consumers?

Yes, checkoff programs benefit consumers by providing:
Product information to help make informed choices.

Research to create new and improved products that meet consumer quality, safety and nutritional expectations.

Who directs checkoff programs?

Checkoff programs are directed by industry-governed boards, appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. These boards are responsible for allocating funds and approving business plans and programs, with USDA approval.

Checkoffs educate and inform key audiences and lead to product innovations and better choices.

Do checkoff programs receive government assistance?

No. Checkoffs are funded entirely by their respective industries, NOT by taxpayers or government agencies.

How is the federal government involved in checkoff programs?

Checkoff programs were established by acts of Congress. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has primary oversight responsibilities. USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) provides additional oversight responsibilities for checkoff program activities in international markets. USDA reviews and approves all checkoff program budgets, producers communications, advertisements, news releases and projects.

Who started checkoffs?

Checkoff programs are assessments brought into existence by the industry supporting them and made mandatory through an act of Congress. Checkoffs are directed and fully-funded by their respective industries, to stimulate demand and strengthen industries.


The South Carolina Watermelon Board in cooperation with the South Carolina Watermelon Association supports research activities each year at Clemson University. Projects are conducted at Research and Education Centers in Charleston,and Blackville.

Research is production-oriented to help producers make sound decisions when producing a crop. Variety trial projects, disease and pest control projects, water management, and row spacing projects all help provide information to farmers that will prove beneficial in field conditions. There are many other ongoing projects in our state.

Field days are held annually for farmers to view projects in the growing conditions and the results. Research is important as we strive to keep our growers on the cutting edge of technology in producing quality watermelons for the consumer to enjoy.

South Carolina Watermelons are typically planted from mid-March through April. Harvest generally begins in early June and continues through July and into August.

Watermelon Availability and Nutrition Information


The South Carolina watermelon harvest begins in mid-June and continues until late August. The majority of watermelons grown in South Carolina are from the lower coastal plains and northern sandhills.


A 4″ by 8″ wedge of watermelon has only 115 calories and supplies vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium.

Guidelines For Purchasing Watermelons

A fully mature watermelon will have a rind with a dull velvety bloom instead of a shiny surface. The underside (belly) of the melon will be a creamy color. The stem end and blossom end should be symmetrical in shape. Avoid watermelons that are bruised, cracked, and have decay.

South Carolina Watermelon Website

South Carolina Watermelon Board Members

District 1

Bennie K. Hughes
Pioneer Hi-Bred International
PO Box 235, Ehrhardt, SC 29081
Bamberg County
(W&H) 803-267-6531, (C) 843-687-2936, (F) 803-267-2307
Term Exp: 12-31-2022

Michael E. Sullivan – VICE CHAIRMAN
Sullivan Produce
1462 E. Maynard Street Extenstion, Pageland, SC 29728
Chesterfield County
Term Exp: 12-31-2021

Rusty Kinard
3208 Halyard Road, Lodge, SC 29082
Colleton County
(H) 843-866-2634, (C) 843-599-2240
Term Exp: 12-31-2020

Mark Williams
Williams Farm PRT
7622 Ashton Rd. Islandton, SC 29929
Colleton County
(W) 843-866-2740 x223, (C) 843-893-7126, (H) 803-245-5398
Term Exp: 12-31-2020


District 2

Hamilton Furman Dicks, III
F. H. Dicks Co.
PO Box 175, Barnwell, SC 29812
Barnwell County
(W) 803-259-3486, (H) 803-259-5933, (C) 803-671-1936, (F) 803-259-2674
Term Exp: 12-31-2021

Bradley Joel O’Neal
Coosaw Farms
PO Box 646, Fairfax, SC 29827
Allendale County
(W) 803-632-2021, (H) 803-632-3873, (C) 803-584-9030, (F) 803-632-3321
Term Exp: 12-31-2022

Scotty Sandifer – CHAIRMAN
Sandifer Farms
1583 Mt. Zion Rd. Blackville, SC 29817
Barnwell County
(H) 803-793-7436 or 3842, (W) 803-284-5111, (C) 803-793-7436, (F) 803-284-5258 or 5140
Term Exp: 12-31-2020

Term Exp: 12-31-2021

Term Exp: 12-31-2022



Kyle Tisdale, Marketing Specialist
SC Department of Agriculture, PO Box 11280, Columbia, SC 29211
(W) 803-734-0347


Ex Officio

Frances Price, Chair, Agriculture Commission of SC
433 Peach Festival Rd., Gilbert, SC 29054
(W) 803-892-2457, (C) 803-260-9691