WOODLAND, Calif. — Dynamic is the first in a line of new non-slip western shipper cantaloupe varieties from Syngenta Vegetable Seeds bred with both the retailer and consumer in mind.
Vicky BoydRod Jorgensen, melon and squash product lead for Syngenta Vegetable Seeds, cuts a slice of Dynamic variety cantaloupe to show off the fruit’s internal qualities. “The biggest advantage, other than the taste for the consumer because this is a much sweeter melon, is the shelf life,” said Rod Jorgensen, melon and squash product lead.
The Boise, Idaho-based firm’s cantaloupes and warm-season vegetable crops were the focus of its annual Woodland station tour on Aug. 12.
Western shippers, the type of cantaloupe predominately grown in the West, have a shelf life of 10-14 days. But non-slip western shippers have a shelf life of at least 21 days and can easily go up to 28 days, reducing produce department shrink, Jorgensen said.
“You can now ship cartons to the East Coast, and they have enough shelf life where they can still sell the fruit,” he said. “I’m seeing a lot of fruit coming from the West this year in retail in the East.
“Now with Dynamic and the shelf life, you can actually ship this back to the East Coast and give (the retailer) two weeks of shelf life, if not three,” Jorgensen said. “It’s a big opportunity for Western growers to capitalize on the markets in the East.”
As western shipper cantaloupes near maturity, an abscission zone forms around the stem, which starts to dry out. At the same time, the plant can no longer transport sugars into the fruit.
When the melon is ready to pick, it slips off the vine, creating a clean, slightly indented circular area where the stem was — known as the “slip.”
But non-slip western shippers do not have the abscission zone and don’t slip when ready to harvest, Jorgensen said. The vine stays attached, and the plant continues to pump sugar into the fruit. Crews have to clip the melons to harvest them.
These types of melons may average 14-16 degrees brix whereas traditional western shippers run a few degrees less, he said.
The new types also have a more concentrated fruit set, which helps growers manage tight labor supplies. Rather than picking a field up to a dozen times, growers harvest two to three times, depending on the market, Jorgensen said.
One of the challenges has been educating retailers and consumers who are used to looking at the stem end and the slip to determine ripeness, he said.