Capitol Corridor
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Capitol Corridor
University of California
Capitol Corridor

Posts Tagged: watermelon

Kearney research station a Fresno County 'gem'

In the waning days of her tenure at the Fresno Bee, food writer Joan Obra devoted an entire column to the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center near Parlier.

When she first announced her decision to leave the Bee to return to her family's Hawaii coffee farm, Obra wrote rapturously about the UC Lindcove Research and Extension Center. Her following column said, "I'm not yet done telling you stories." She then recounted treasures she discovered over the years during tours of the 330-acre Kearney station near Parlier.

Obra was fascinated by:

  • A demonstration planting of medicinal and culinary herbs from Southeast Asia which includes common and scientific names for the plants.

  • Sichuan peppers that she wrote "nearly choked me," planted by UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Richard Molinar at Kearney as a possible California specialty crop.

  • A late summer field day where she tried more than 20 varieties of mini watermelons. "The red flesh of the Little Deuce Coupe was pleasingly crunchy but not super sweet. And the sunny interior of the Mini Yellow was sweeter but not as crisp," Obra wrote.

  • Jujubes. Not the artificially flavored candy that sticks to your teeth, but small apple-like fruit important in Asian communities.

Obra closed what might have been her final Fresno Bee missive by encouraging readers to explore valley food beyond grocery stores and restaurants. And she asked her readers to think of her "when you're enjoying a Fay Elberta peach," considered a "threatened variety" in California, now grown as a specialty crop and made famous by Mas Masumoto's "Epitaph for a Peach."

We will think of you, Joan. Aloha.

A watermelon field day at Kearney. (Photo: B. Dawson)
A watermelon field day at Kearney. (Photo: B. Dawson)

Posted on Wednesday, February 2, 2011 at 9:25 AM

Bay Area newspaper features giant watermelons

The San Francisco Chronicle devoted space in the Sunday paper for a story about gigantic watermelons cultivated by a Santa Clara County UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener.

Master Gardener Mike Kent sent away for giant watermelon seeds and tended a patch at the program's two-acre research garden, "Nine Palms Ranch." The result was five supersized watermelons including a 103.2-pound behemoth that was carved up and shared at a September tasting and open house.

According to the story, written for the Chron by Master Gardener Laramie Treviño, UCCE farm advisor Aziz Baameur was on hand for the watermelon tasting. He said the monstrous melon was surprisingly sweet, and while it is a curiosity, the size isn't practical for most consumers. In fact, watermelon breeding programs are focused on smaller, rather than larger, fruit.

"Most people don't want 40-50-pound watermelons - they'll hurt their backs trying to put them in their cars," Baameur was quoted. "If you have a small yard, that is all you're going to grow."

The newest trend is seedless "personal" watermelons, about the size of a cantaloupe. They are easy to carry and fit comfortably in the refrigerator. Many varieties of personal watermelons have been found by UCCE advisors to have very thin rind and bright red, crispy and intensely sweet flesh.

Small-sized watermelons are more popular than monstrosities.
Small-sized watermelons are more popular than monstrosities.

Posted on Monday, October 5, 2009 at 11:27 AM
Tags: watermelon (3)

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