U.S.: 'Critical time' for California melon industry - FreshFruitPortal.com

U.S.: 'Critical time' for California melon industry

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U.S.: 'Critical time' for California melon industry

An annual symposium to be held by the California Melon Research Board (CMRB) next year will address hot industry topics like rising water costs and heightened competition with other crops. shutterstock_96353276

The event will take place on Jan. 6 in San Diego, bringing together industry actors such as growers, handlers, and marketers from around the world, while also featuring a variety of presentations from the research community and a special guest speaker.

CMRB chairman Milas Russell Jr. said the industry was at a 'critical time' not only in consumption of the fruit, but in the processes used to grow, harvest and bring it to market.

"The state of the industry for us really has to do with two factors," he told www.freshfruitportal.com.

"One is the cost of water which in California has gone up exponentially, and the other is the competing crops, being that melons are a seasonal crop.

"So we're finding it a bit tougher over the last few years...but I would say the industry as a whole is growing slowly."

As with other industries like citrus, the protracted drought in California has forced many growers to uproot some of their trees, and Russell said the situation was leaving the sector with two choices.

"Our options are grow varieties that yield more or grow varieties that have added value in the market place, and that’s really where the industry’s going to go," he said.

"That’s why it's becoming more important to have symposiums like what we have because we are able to lend a hand to growers to make those types of decisions."

The event will also continue its tradition of highlighting advancements in melon varieties, growing techniques and harvesting, and also update attendees on the progress of various research projects.

Some current projects of the CMRB, which was established in the early 1970s, include research on diseases affecting the industry like cucumber green mottle mosaic virus (CGMMV) and the Cucurbit yellow stunting disorder virus (CYSDV).

This year's guest speaker will be Dr. Henry Miller, the Stanford University professor who authored "The Colossal Hoax of Organic Agriculture".

"We try to bring in different speakers that have something to do with our industry but aren't necessarily focused on melon production," Russell said.

"There will also be seed companies like Syngenta that send representatives, because they all do test trials and they all need to be up to date on growing techniques as well."

He added the symposium was by no means limited to California or U.S. melon growers, saying it was important collective global effort.

"There are growers in many parts of the world like Latin America and Australia that could really benefit from what we’re learning in California and we like to have more of a collaborative environment that helps around the world and not just in California, we feel as through opening our horizons to all growers would be beneficial for us here," he said.

The symposium will be held at San Diego's Marriott Hotel - Gaslamp, and the CMRB welcomes all to contact JD Allen at jdallen@tabcomp.com to RSVP for the event. The final day to register is Dec. 11.

Photo: www.shutterstock.com


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