The project will see nearly 1,000 melons of four varieties cultivated in table-top grow bags. Some of these have now been harvested.
If the experiment is deemed a success East Malling will set about further testing to identify melon varieties suitable for growing on table-top production in UK condition. Early results suggest that melons may be suitable as a catch-crop - before or after main crops of strawberries.
Said EMR chief executive Peter Gregory; "As our climate continues to warm, so growers will be presented with significant crop production challenges. One option, as we seek to address the increasing use of long-term food security, will be for growers to adapt their growing systems - including the development of novel crops."
Said commercial farm manager Graham Caspell; "Kent could soon be the UK hub for novel fruits such as apricots, kiwifruit and melons, as climate change provides opportunities to grow fruits that supermarkets have traditionally sourced from other parts of the world."