GOOD NEWS: Doppler Dave visits the Agricultural Research Center to discuss one of his favorite things: watermelon!

Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 9:28 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - By now you may already know that I’m rather fond of watermelons.

Work is being done at the Agricultural Research Center in Bushland to find efficient ways to irrigate and keep the melons coming.

“Relatively new type of irrigation called mobile drip and those are those orange hoses and they drag along the ground and apply small amounts of water right at the crop root zone,” says Paul Colaizzi, Research Agricultural Engineer, “We’re producing as much as or more melons with a much less amount of water.”

In fact, the irrigation method being tested seems to generate twice the production.

“So we have seen a double production of melons per plant with the mobile drip,” says Andrea Leiva Soto, PhD Research Associate.

The melon plants seem to be happier with less stress.

“What that means is there is less water stress with the drag line system compared to the drizzle system,” says Rajan Shrestha, PhD Research Associate.

This type of irrigation is also good for the aquifer.

“And also like water use efficiency because you’re getting, you know, more yield and using less water, and that’s what we want,” says Leiva Soto.

Once the data is gathered and the melons harvested, the news gets even better.

“We take the melons, we harvest them in boxes like you see here and then we donate them to the local food bank. Last week we were able to take a trailer like this, we filled it up twice just with the melons from one of our research plots,” says Benjamin Herron, USDA Bushland.

“We are producing around 80-85 tons of melons per acre,” says Colaizzi.

“It’s been great. They come through every year for us and donate all the time during the summer for us and it’s great to have fresh produce, you know, coming in our doors.” says Zack Wilson, Executive Director of the High Plains Food Bank.

And, like me, who doesn’t love a good watermelon?

“It’s actually one of our top requests when we have a lot of produce here that can go out. It’s one of those first things that moves and especially during the summer. There’s definitely requests for watermelons, cantaloupes.” says Wilson.

Not only are we learning how to grow watermelons efficiently, but also a lot of folks that normally wouldn’t get to eat watermelons get the fruits of the labor. Now that’s some good news.