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Novelty Melons, Specialty Melons, Variety Trial, Consumer Taste Response


Novelty, specialty or personalized melons are generally smaller and different from traditional Midwest watermelons, cantaloupes or muskmelons. Sugar Cube is a successful example. This project by MU Extension was to evaluate four novelty melons on yield, quality and storage, with Sugar Cube as the control. Included in the evaluation were Brilliant (Canary), Honey Orange (crispy flesh Honeydew), Lambkin (Piel De Sapo), and Lilly (small & early Crenshaw). Each has an appearance and taste profile distinctly different from cantaloupe. The results of this project should give confidence to growers interested in novelty melons, especially for Brilliant (Canary type) and Lambkin (Piel De Sapo). Both had excellent yields compared to Sugar Cube, stored better than it, and were well received by consumers. Lambkin should be marketed under a more interesting or descriptive name. Honey Orange and Lilly should be considered more cautiously for production, although yields for both were excellent. Regarding Lilly’s tendency to crack when ripe, this might be lessened by restricting irrigation. Lilly may also develop a following from consumers who feel a ripe fruit should be soft. To them the creamy texture is a real selling point. When Honey Orange was at peak ripeness, it was enthusiastically received. Unfortunately, if not fully ripe, the flavor was less acceptable even with melons having Brix levels of 12 or 13. If a grower can’t ensure his harvesters can determine ripeness, it could be challenging to market or generate consumer enthusiasm.