Spain: Cucumber melons already marketed in Huelva on a small scale

During the summer of 2016, Alberto Garrocho received a small cut of cucumber melon, an exotic plant that has been cultivated for thousands of years in the Andean countries of South America. The president of Freshuelva, who is an extremely active and enterprising agricultural producer from Palos de la Frontera, did not hesitate; he planted it on a plot of his property, located in the area of ​​'Valdemaría', to study its financial viability. A year and a half after starting this experimental project, Garrocho has revealed some details of this interesting agricultural initiative.

From the original mother plant, which he still keeps, he has already obtained about 1,000 identical clones. Of these, about 400 plants are being grown hydroponically in about 300 square metres, while the rest have been planted in gutters, in about 900 square metres, to be able to compare their vegetative and reproductive behaviours.

He has been harvesting fruits of those that were planted in pots in June 2017 since last October. "In these four months, I have probably harvested about 800 kilos; an average of two kilos per plant," says Garrocho. According to his calculations, one hectare devoted to the cultivation of cucumber melons can yield between 45,000 and 50,000 kilos if well-prepared. Those figures may possibly not be achieved in the first year, but during the subsequent years, I am sure that it will be possible, because it is a very vigorous and productive plant."

Although the plants are bearing fruits now in winter, Alberto Garrocho is convinced that the best time to harvest and market them is in summer, so he is conducting tests to find out the exact moment when they should be planted to be able to sell cucumber melons during the summer months. "It is, in my opinion, the perfect time to market them, especially because they are very juicy and refreshing," he stresses.

So far, only a few fruit stores in Palos de la Frontera are selling this new fruit, also known as sweet melon, which can have different sizes, although the ideal ranges between 125 and 130 grams. "I'm selling them for two Euro per kilo, and in stores the price amounts to around 3 Euro, and apparently, they tell me, it is being successful among customers," says the president of Freshuelva.

Another important characteristic of cucumber melons, according to Alberto Garrocho, is that they can be consumed as a fruit when ripe, but can also be used for salads when they are still green.


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