Trials lead to possibility of melons in southern England

Melons grown in polytunnels could be viable commercially across southern England, but only if they are planted after another crop such as early 60-day strawberries, East Malling farm manager Graham Caspell told visitors to last month's Fruit Focus.

The Kent research site began trialling melons last year in a joint project with Mack Multiples, with the aim of harvesting them in September, when Spanish imports are finishing and prices are higher.

Melons require plentiful water, fertiliser and "heat and more heat", said Caspell, pointing out that the latter has been scarce this season until the end of last month. The varieties Eminenza and Magritte are showing most promise, he added.

Claude Guerin, produce chain specialist at seed supplier Nunhems, added that melons are normally grown at 20-40 degsC, which is well above typical temperatures at the Kent trial.


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