Niche melon variety gets test run in South Africa

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Niche melon variety gets test run in South Africa

The white-skinned Piel de Sapo melon is expanding out of its standard territory in Spain and Italy. With an eye on the niche market, growers in South Africa are testing out this variety for the first time this season.Piel_de_sapo

Although traditional cantaloupe and honeydew melons will continue to lead the South African market, Piel de Sapo shows potential for specialty retailers, explained Riaan Duvenhage, product manager for South African seed company Starke Ayres.

The company currently markets the variety under the name SEDA, alongside a range of other hybrids from its Dutch partner, Numhems.

"The Piel de Sapo at this stage is a niche market. The majority of the market is still the orange, cantaloupe type," Duvenhage told

Out of the market, it’s probably about 80% cantaloupe, 20% honey dew. Then the new ones like Piel de Sapo are probably only 1% of the market."

Despite the market hold from traditional varieties, Duvenhage said the Piel de Sapo offers several characteristics that will help set it apart.

"The external appearance is completely different but the main characteristics that growers want it for are the very high eating quality, the very high sugar content and the very firm flesh. It has a very good post-harvest shelf life and it goes very well with fresh cut products and even fruit salads. It has a very crispy texture," he said.

The variety also has high resistance to Fusarium and intermediate resistance to powdery mildew. The fruit is considered extra large at 2-3.5kg (4.4lbs-7.7lbs).

Photo: Tamorlan via Wikimedia Commons


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