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melons

What is Hollow Heart?

While we all love to enjoy a slice of juicy watermelon, sometimes the melon you buy sometimes doesn’t look quite so enticing as the next one…

We thought we’d uncover the phenomenon of Hollow Heart – what it looks like, what causes it, and if the fruit is still safe to eat.

So what does Hollow Heart look like?

This is when the inside of the watermelon has hollow cracks in the inside. In minor cases this will show in small splits, in major signs are shown by the flesh separating in triangle shapes.

And what is the main cause of Hollow Heart?

This does come down to poor pollination. Often cases, this will happen in seasons during the time of critical pollination it is rainy or overcast weather so the bees aren’t as active to transfer pollen from plant to plant. Sometimes it can come down to just a season where the bees aren’t as active or the pollination isn’t as good.

It’s also important to have good water and fertility management in the critical growing stages of the melons to ensure they the inner fruit cells keep pace with the expansion of the rind. That’s why here at Fieldco, we have a dedicated team of expert long-term planters and teamleaders to help keep an eye on our fields and do regular checks in the growing phase to ensure they get the nutrients they need as the fruit fills out.

So the most important question is…are Hollow Hearted Watermelons safe to eat?

The answer is a firm yes. As Hollow Heart mainly stems from a pollination problem your watermelon will be safe to eat. In fact, most times it will be a sweeter tasting melon because the natural sugars are concentrated along the cracks in the flesh.

Perfect for whizzing up in your processor to make a melon cocktail or diced into a summer salad!

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Fresh melons

Ripeness of Rockmelon & Honeydew

How to tell if a rockmelon or honeydew melon is ripe is a quite different story to a standard watermelon. We have witnessed a few funny sights of people listening to them, tapping them to tell their ripeness but the fact is, you can’t.

Rockmelon

The first signs a rockmelon or cantaloupe melon, is getting ripe is the change in colour of the netting of the skin. The netting refers to the vein-like detail on the skin of the melon. When they’re ripe, the netting should turn from green to tan.  

A ripe rockmelon also have a strong, pungent aroma that can be smelt through the skin.

You can also check the top of the melon, the spot where the melon attaches to the vine. When a rockmelon is ripe, the stripes near the top of the stem will be wide and fully ‘netted’. An unripe rockmelon will be slightly green and often smooth around the top of the stem.

Honeydew

Honeydew melons are the hardest of all melon varieties to test for ripeness and this is also true for our melon picking team. When they are picked, secateurs are used to cut them off the vine so unlike other varieties, the pop-test (how easily the melon ‘pops’ off the vine) isn’t used.

The most noticeable sign of ripeness is the colour of the skin. The melons’ green rind will turn slightly creamy yellow in colour.

For a lot of honeydew, they won’t give off a strong smell like the rockmelon, but more of a sweet aroma.

If the colour is good, you can test the end of the melon opposite the stem. If there is a slight give, the melon is probably ripe.

When you cut into a honeydew melon, the flesh should be soft, not hard and crunchy.

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melons

How to pick a ripe watermelon

The most commonly asked question and debate that comes up on the topic of watermelon is, how do you really tell it is ripe?

And while our melon growing experience dates back to the early 90s, we can’t honestly say there is a foolproof way to know what the inside of the melon looks like.

But we did care to share a couple of tips and tricks from our team to help you pick out your watermelon next time you’re instore!

No soft spots or bruises – a watermelon skin should be firm all over. Any soft spots indicates it is overripe or has a small disease which could affect the taste of the watermelon.

Dull rind or slightly brown – the skin of the melon should be nice and shiny!

Buttery yellow underside – perception of a perfect watermelon is it has to be green all over but that’s not true! The yellow patch shows where the melon has been resting on the ground prior to being harvest. A large spot illustrates it has spent more time ripening on the vine and should be sweet.

A ripe watermelon will have a hollow sound when tapped, like a drum. This is because the air inside the watermelon has expanded as the fruit has ripened. An unripe watermelon will have a duller, higher-pitched sound.

Is heavy for its size – this indicated the amount of ‘juice’ and ultimately, a sweeter tasting melon.

Dried tendril stem – this is easier for our picking teams in the field as the curly tendril on each watermelon stem should be brown before they are picked. If the stem of the watermelon is still green or got a long green stalk, this can indicate it hasn’t done its full ripening cycle in the field!

BUST THE MYTH

If you can fit 2 fingers between the melon stripes, it is ripe

This is simply not true! A good portion of Fieldco watermelons are a dark green variety which has no stripes and are some of our sweetest tasting melons. The ripeness completely depends on the variety and of course…who’s 2 finger measurements are the same?

We prefer to go off the tap-test(does is sound hollow?) and testing the weight of the melon.

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melons Uncategorized

Yellow Watermelon

Introducing: Yellow Watermelons

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover and that doesn’t ring more true than when it comes to the yellow watermelon!

This yellow flesh variety looks identical to its red fleshed counterpart, with a dark green stripy rind, so it takes special care and attention to detail to keep this crop variety separate in both picking and packing.

Apart from the obvious difference in colour of the skin, this variety can be used just as you would with the red watermelon. Slightly firmer in flesh and sweeter in taste, this is a super juicy variety…you don’t want to miss out on trying it this summer!

Surprisingly, as legend would have it, yellow watermelon cultivation came before red watermelons. Believes to have been grown 5000 years ago in Africa, yellow watermelons went through generations of selective cross-breeding for texture, sweetness and colour.

And what’s makes them yellow? Traditional watermelons get there pinky-red flesh from lycopene which is the same antioxidant that is found in tomatoes or grapefruit. Yellow watermelons don’t contain lycopene so they never do turn red as they ripen.  

Interested in hearing more? Contact us to find out more.

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Fresh melons Uncategorized

Seedless Watermelons

Say goodbye to seeds…introducing our Seed-less watermelons!

Skip the pips and try our new variety of watermelon which has small white pips, nearly invisible when eaten…

And no, these small white seeds are not underdeveloped seeds that will grow in your stomach.

Like all fruit, seed-less watermelon cannot reproduce without the need for some seeds but we are talking the large mature black seeds.

So how are Seedless melons grown? Chromosomes are the building blocks that give characteristics, or traits, to living things including plants and watermelons. According to Watermelon Org, breeders discovered that crossing a diploid plant (bearing the standard two sets of chromosomes) with a tetraploid plant (having four sets of chromosomes) results in a fruit that produces a triploid seed. (Yes, it has three sets of chromosomes.) This triploid seed is the seed that produces seedless watermelons.

In other words, a seedless watermelon is a sterile hybrid which is created by crossing male pollen for a watermelon, containing 22 chromosomes per cell, with a female watermelon flower with 44 chromosomes per cell. When this seeded fruit matures, the small, white seeds inside contain 33 chromosomes, rendering it sterile and incapable of producing seeds. And to be clear on the subject, this is not genetic modification. Cross-breeding is two parents and their offspring.

Its interesting to note that seedless watermelon still need to be pollinated by their seeded parent, so often this means growers will plant a mix of seeded and seedless melons in one paddock.

This variety of Watermelon has taken off in the United States and is now a preferred variety by both stores and customers.

New to the New Zealand market, these are becoming more recognized as consumers are exposed to them. Sweeter and firmer in flesh, these rate among the top tasting varieties amongst our team!

Interested in hearing more? Contact one of our team on sales@fieldco.co.nz to find out more.

Source: Watermelon Org, Florida

Categories
Fresh melons

Pollination for Watermelons

Bees play a vital role in our ecosystem.

They also pay a vital role in the pollination of watermelons – both for plant yields and to ensure the melons are healthy, sweet tasting and a good shape.

Watermelon, rockmelon and honeydew melon are all dependent on insect pollinators to help produce the high quality, large fruits.

On a watermelon, each variety produces separate male and female flowers on one plant. Pollinators, or in this case, bees, are needed to transfer pollen from the male to female flowers for fruit to be produced.

Watermelon flowers open in the early morning hours and close in the afternoon. The weather also plays a part in a good pollination of the watermelon flowers as if it is grey and rainy weather on the days the flowers are open, the bees won’t be as active in the field. This causes lower yields and the fruit won’t be as sweet.

With Rockmelon and Honeydew varieties, each vine contains a mix of male flowers and fruit-producing flowers. They flowers don’t need other plants to cross-pollinate, but they do need pollinators, such as bees, to dislodge the pollen and move it onto the stigma for seed set and fruit development. Flowers that are cross-pollinated have been shown to produce heavier fruit than those pollinated from flowers on the same plant.

Good pollination is a result of a few different factors:

Weather –  The weather plays a key part in a good pollination of the watermelon flowers as if it is grey and rainy weather on the days the flowers are open, the bees won’t be as active in the field. This causes lower yields and the fruit won’t be as sweet.

Health of the Bees – it requires careful management of the hives to ensure the hives are healthy.

Land Management – some bees will visit other preferred crops or plants if they are also in flower on the same block.

HIVE MANAGEMENT

Fieldco has their own bees and hives [pictured] that are managed by Denver, one of our Field Team leaders. This gives us greater control on our pollination rates and ensures our melon fields are healthy and thriving.

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melons

Water as a Key Resource for Watermelons

There are 3 main resources watermelons need to grow: Sun, Good soil nutrients and of course, Water. Bees also play a vital part ensuring good pollination and a quality crop.

 And we have to remember, they aren’t called watermelon for no reason! A lot of varieties are up to 92% water. This is why they prefer a tropical or sub-tropical climate, and in a spot with little to no wind.

In a tropical climate, the humid air helps to keep the soil moist and stops them from drying out, especially during the hot summer months when they are in their growing phase. While they love the humidity, diseases tend to thrive under wet and humid conditions as well, so extra care has to be taken. Diseases such as Fusarium Wilt have the potential to wipe out the entire crop before they get a chance to produce any fruit.

Watermelons are a very delicate fruit to grow when they are first starting to grow as they have very shallow roots, meaning in a hot, dry climate the plant can wilt and dry up very quickly. These shallow roots are very thirsty and require careful attention by our field teams to keep them damp without drowning them early on.  

While the fruit starts to form, it is also important to keep a steady supply of water to help the fruit fill out. This will ensure a fill melon with maximum juiciness.

Here at Fieldco, extra care has to be taken to grow our melons on farm blocks where there is abundant natural supply of water.

Water management is a big part of our Sustainability program as Water is life for Humans, and the same is true for plants. The use of water storage lakes and preserving the water when we do get the rain, helps provide protection from weather events and provides storage for irrigation and wash water for our packing plants as well.

Categories
melons

New Melon Technology

We know summer has truly arrived when our melon fields are humming with activity!

Watermelons grown in the North of New Zealand – the right location for the tropical weather they love!

We have had a few wet spells during the last few weeks which has delayed the ripening of our melons but also given them time to fill out to their full size.

This year, we have our new melon technology up and running to help bring you the best in the field (scuse our pun).

Fieldco has invested in a new melon grading equipment which incorporates world leading optical sorting, which means we can now bring a much more consistent quality and size of melon to the market. This also helps us in the ability to deliver specific size requirements and specs from our customers.

Size graded, checked for defects and nicely polished, we are here to help your instore melon display look the best it possibly can this summer!

Our goal is to be the best, to bring you the best and we plan on delivering on that.  

Interested in getting consistent, quality melon supply for your store?

Go to our contact page to get in touch with one of our team.