If retailers store the melons at proper temperatures, he said a shelf-life of two to three weeks can be expected on top of the seven to 10 days of transport time.
“I think it’s a real good combination for everybody,” Jorgenson said. “Growers can go to two to three harvests. Retailers are going to have something with a lot more shelf-life and the consumer is going to have a much better tasting product. So we look for have some pretty significant excitement in the coming years.”
Monsanto’s melon entry, a charentais variety marketed under the Melorange label, has a shelf life of 30-40 days from the day it was picked, Mills said.
It was originally developed for Central American production, but a few California and Arizona grower shippers also have put in some acreage.
“In the winter months, this is what’s available because this is what fits the growing practices, the distribution chain and the needs of the market,” Mills said.
The diminutive melon has firm, deep orange flesh, high sugars and a pleasant flavor.
One of the challenges with all of these long-shelflife melons is educating growers, harvest crews, retailers and consumers about how to tell mature from immature melons, breeders and product reps said.
With traditional Western shippers, a mature melon will slip, or easily separate, from the vine, leaving a nice, clean indentation similar to an inny belly button.
But if you wait for the long-shelflife melons to slip, they’re over-mature. Instead, they should be harvested as the netting creeps up the stem, but the stem will remain attached.