Seed companies invite growers and retail buyers from across Europe to see first-hand their latest offerings
The Region of Murcia is set to become the European epicentre of agronomic and genetic innovation in melons and watermelons over the next two weeks when the international seed companies open the doors of their trial farms to showcase their new offerings to European growers and retail buyers.
Fernando Gómez, director of grower-exporter association Proexport said the choice of seeds is the starting point to obtaining healthy plants and quality fruit.
“Farmers, businessmen and professionals seek developments that provide new flavours, colours, shapes, textures, resistance to pests, optimisation of supplies or adaptation to climate change,” he said.
“It is arduous work, taking years, that requires close collaboration between the seed companies and the producers at origin, something that we do especially well in the Region of Murcia.”
Murcia is Spain’s biggest melon-producing region, accounting for 55 per cent of total melon output and 20 per cent of watermelon production.
In 2021 it exported 208,680 tonnes of melons worth €154m and 240,530 tonnes of watermelons worth €99.6m.
Growers from all over Spain, as well as from other countries and European retail buyers will travel to Murcia to learn first-hand about the innovative proposals developed by the breeders and seed companies.
Needs of producers and consumers
When developing a new variety, the breeder must take into account the tastes of the consumer, the demands of retailers and processors and the needs of the producer.
Producers are looking for resistance to pests and diseases, sustainability, good adaptation to the local growing area and high yield.
For their part, retailer demands revolve around obtaining fruit with a long shelf-life and a uniform appearance.
In recent years, certain markets, notably those in northern Europe, are demanding smaller sizes that adapt to the size of the current family groups.
One factor that everyone is agreed on is flavour. In watermelons, the development of new seedless varieties with a high flavour profile has driven an increase in demand in the last decade, and they have gained market share from melons.
Now, producers and seed houses are working on new types of melon to delight the most demanding palates.