By Aubregyn V. Ancheta
Most of us are familiar with the popular watermelon with red and yellow flesh. Plenty of farmers nowadays combine planting both red and yellow fleshed watermelons, since they are two of the consumer’s favorites. But did you know that each color contains a slight difference in nutrients?
According to livestrong.com, “yellow watermelon makes a healthy addition to your diet, it’s important to note the slight difference in nutrition between the yellow and red varieties. Yellow watermelon is a good source of beta carotene and red watermelon is a good source of lycopene. Both beta carotene and lycopene are antioxidants, and may provide protection against cancer and eye disease.”
Some farmers in Ilocos Sur, equipped with thorough knowledge on cultivation of watermelons for more than a decade, tried Known You’s yellow-fleshed watermelon Tiffany for more than two seasons. These farmers settled on the Tiffany after conducting a simple trial of whether the variety thrives well in their areas.
Farmers have been adaptive in trying different varieties to find one that suits their needs, since high farming costs have led them to smaller profits despite higher selling prices during peak seasons. They look for a variety that yields more, has great eating quality, good shipping ability, and is resilient against pests and diseases. Though these farmers believe that there is no such thing as a perfect variety, they hope, at least, that they could find the best one for their needs.
The Tiffany watermelon
Known You Marketer Albert Castillo has been meeting with these farmers, telling them about the good characteristics of the Tiffany. Tiffany watermelon is an oblong shaped watermelon with dark green and visible veined rind. It has yellow to orange colored flesh, is very sweet and juicy, and has a hard rind. It weighs an average of 4-5 kilograms, can bear fruits 3-4 uniform sizes, and matures early, around 65-70 days after sowing.
Jessie Labarento , a farmer, expressed that to produce good quality watermelon, one must have to be dedicated in doing so. Watermelons require plenty of space to give the vines enough room to roam. Water plays an important role in keeping vines healthy in order to produce delicious fruit. Proper timing of watering should be considered since the soil also needs to be consistently moist, but not waterlogged, as this will kill the plants. Watermelon vines are very sensitive from planting time until the fruits start to form, so farmers should avoid overhead watering, and instead water at the base of the plant, as this prevents the possible outbreak of fungal diseases among wet foliage.
Farmer Jose Legaspina said that the Tiffany variety is prolific, vigorous, and resistant against pests and diseases. Since most watermelon farmers in Ilocos Norte does direct seeding, this variety has survived, with good germ rate of even one seed per hole. He provided the plant with good spacing (.5m per plant and a creeping area of 2 meters) and also used fertilizers with more nitrogen and less phosphorus and potassium during the planting season. Once flowers start to show, he reverses by using fertilizers with more phosphorus and potassium and less nitrogen.
Nick Manzano, also a farmer, states that farming is a big risk, but no one can ever complain about how hard farming is because it has always been their choice and their passion to become a farmer. When watermelon sells at a good price, it can somehow cover the high input costs. However, in order to achieve and to be able to sell fruits at good price, their produce should be of good quality. The Tiffany variety can grow 3-4 good fruits and the buyers have good impression about it; this gives farmers hope that the Tiffany can be their new favorite partner in farming.
Known You Seed Philippines hopes that their watermelons will continue to become the favorite variety, and in line with this, they are committed to continue working to develop new and best tasting products for the Philippine market.
This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s July 2019 issue.