Articles about US Seedless Watermelons
"A New Variety of Orange Seedless (Triploid) Watermelon"
ONE YEAR AGO, IN FEBRUARY 1998, a new variety of deep orange seedless watermelon, Orange Sunshine, was introduced at the National Watermelon Association's convention in Amelia Island, Fla. Since then, a second, new variety of deep orange seedless (triploid) watermelon, Orange Sweet, has been made commercially available. Seed of both varieties are being distributed internationally for immediate plantings.
Orange Sunshine and Orange Sweet have deep orange flesh and should not be confused with the yellow-flesh seedless varieties, which have been on the market for many years. The contrast between the orange and yellow is striking and pronounced.
Seeded (diploid) orange-flesh varieties are generally limited to the local market because of the presence of large seeds (up to 1,000 seeds to a melon). Such seediness can promote rapid breakdown and senescence of the delicate orange flesh. However, the seedless condition of these two new triploid varieties overcomes these limitations and produces a tender but firm orange flesh, which keeps and holds wells. The orange flesh turns a deeper orange color as it ripens and the flavor can even improve after harvesting. Also, their tough sunburn-resistant rind makes for excellent long-distance shipping from Florida growers.
This past summer, US Seedless sent fresh watermelon samples of Orange Sunshine and Orange Sweet to several large growers, brokers and merchandisers across the nation. Six major grocery chains, two headquartered in Florida, have stated that they will stock the new varieties. Several large brokers are eager to stock their customer's stores with these new varieties, and several large growers are presently growing the watermelons for sale to grocery chains.
The seed is listed in the 1999 catalogs of Siegers Seed, W. Altee Burpee & Co. and Willhite seed. It is also available through Chapion Seed, H&H Seed and Transplants, Keithly-Williams, LeFroy Valley Seed (Australia), Orspeed Ltd.(Israel), and South Pacific Seeds ( Australia).
Orange Sunshine and Orange Sweet are full-season varieties. The deep orange slices hold their crisp and appetizing appearance. They both have excellent yield potential, with round to slightly oval fruit averaging 16-20 pounds. Both varieties were displayed by the National Watermelon Promotion Board at the Produce Marketing Association conventions held in California and New Orleans this past year with overwhelming response by major produce distributors seeking to obtain these new varieties.
Please contact US Seedless, L.L.C., PO. Box 3066, Falls Church, VA 22043, phone 703-903-9190 for more details about the merchandisers and brokers interested in receiving the new varieties, or contact one of the distributors listed above. Visit the US Seedless website at www.usseedless.com or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
"Orange Seedless Variety to Hit Shelves this Season"
By Todd Foltz
Perkasie, Pa. Len Kantor's company has devoted 12 years to the research and development of its debut product. As summer (and the first commercial release) approaches, Kantor soon will learn if consumers are apt to sink their teeth into 20 pounds of bright orange succulence.
If early reviews of Kantor's seedless, orange watermelons are any indication, then consumers may add a new color to their Fourth of July celebrations. Last Fall, for example, his melons were lauded on the cable television show "All in Good Taste" and on the "Today" show on NBC.
"Test Marketing was definitely the most interesting part of the research (in developing seedless, orange watermelons)," Kantor said. "In farmers markets and grocery stores, wherever we sliced and displayed both red and seedless and orange seedless watermelons side by side and taste samples were available, the orange watermelon always sold out first. People even came to the research station to buy more."
In the past, orange watermelons have been susceptible to diseases such as fusarium wilt and haven't transported well because of weak rinds. U.S. Seedless LLC, for which Kantor is general manager, is releasing two new varieties this year that have been bred not only for color, taste and long-distance transportation and to have a long shelf life as well.
"The orange pigments still keep a bright and fresh appearance when the red pigments start to look watersoaked and aged," Kantor said.
The varieties called Orange Sweet and Orange Sunshine, both are about 17 to 20 pounds and are more round than oblong.
U.S. Seedless has set up a distribution network for its new seeds that includes companies in Australia and Israel and the United States. Domestic companies include Keithly-Williams, Yuma, Ariz.; Siegers Seed Co., Zeeland, Mich.; H&H Seed and Transplant Co. Inc., Yuma; and Willhite Seed Inc., Poolville, Texas.
On the retail side, chains like Albertson's Inc., Safeway Inc. and Giant Food Stores Inc. have agreed to carry the melons.
Breeding new varieties of watermelon takes a lot of genetic crossing of different varieties with different numbers of chromosomes to arrive at a desired product. When that product doesn't have seeds of its own, the process is even more complicated.
Don Dobbs, general manager of Willhite Seed, knows how hard it is to breed watermelon. He's been working with the crop for nearly 36 years, and he's been breeding it since l969. Dobbs said he was impressed with the new watermelons.
"What we tasted was quite good," Dobbs said. "We were amazed at how well the flesh held up. Orange has been difficult to transport, and it hasn't had the keeping quality before."
Now comes marketing the seed and the fruit they grow into. Summertime and red watermelon are a nostalgic pairing, but Kantor said he thinks consumers will accept the orange once they taste it. He said critics used to say the public wouldn't accept seedless watermelon, either.
But before the consumer can try the new watermelon, seed companies need to stock the seeds and farmers need to plant them. Kantor spent the last year marketing the variety at conventions.
Jim Auchard of Prime Time International, a Coachella, Calif. grower-shipped of colored peppers, cantaloupes and seedless watermelons was impressed by the U.S.Seedless' new products. Auchard said he has not grown the Orange Sweet or the Orange Sunshine but that he liked what he has seen.
"Based on the samples he sent us, it looks promising. It has an exceptionally good color, a nice rind pattern and a good shape," Auchard said.
Kantor's melons also have earned praise from the National Watermelon Promotion Board. The board showed them at the Produce Marketing Association foodservice convention last summer, said Heidi McIntyre, director of marketing.
"They were a big hit;" she said.
Now it comes down to consumer whims. If everything goes according to plan, consumers will develop a hankering for orange watermelons.
U.S. Seedless plans to introduce a third seedless, orange watermelon next year. It also will introduce its first red variety.
"I didn't have a clue that this would be so interesting or so complex," Kantor said. "But we knew it would work. We can't wait for our watermelons to hit the stores"
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