Juicy succulent watermelons, both light green Namdhari and dark green sugar baby variety, have begun making an appearance on the streets and in fruit stalls in the city, heralding the onset of summer.
Officials of the Horticulture Department and Horticultural Producers Co-operative Marketing and Processing Society (Hopcoms) said the watermelon yield has been good this year.
While vendors prefer the Namdhari variety to sell by slice along the roadside, the sugar baby variety is preferred by people to take home, an official of the Horticulture Department said.
Farmers, who seeded the watermelons in December, have begun harvesting the crop. The growers generally do the seeding after winter during December and January, so that the fruit is available in summer. “Watermelons are ready for harvesting 70 to 75 days after seeding and the ensuing season is expected to last till summer ends in May,” the official said.
Though summer is considered the season of watermelons, Horticulture Department officials said farmers are now growing the fruit round the year. “Some farmers time the yield around Ramzan, the month of fasting observed by Muslims, when there is a good demand for watermelons”, an official said.
Watermelons are grown on an estimated 1,150 hectares of land in the district with H.D. Kote and Nanjangud taluks accounting for the lion’s share. “The yield not only meets the local demand but are also transported to Kerala and Tamil Nadu,” an official added.
During 2014-15, about 35,000 tonnes of watermelons were grown in the district.
Bore Gowda, Hopcoms president, Mysuru, said its outlets were selling watermelons for Rs. 8 per kg and that farmers were being paid Rs. 6 per kg.
However, watermelons are sold for anywhere between Rs. 10 and Rs. 15 by fruit traders, who arrange them in mounds by the roadside. Most of the vendors seek to justify the price tag on the quality of the fruit.