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Aug. 20, 1996

Pecos cantaloupe price

grows with distance

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By Jerry Hulsey

Want to make any commodity worth more? Simply move it more than 200
miles from its origin and double its value.

I, too, am a cantaloupe grower. Not in Pecos, but in Dublin, Tex. We as
growers know that the quality and sweetness of the melon is determined
by the soil and water, but the consumer doesn't. In LeLeon, a Pecos
cantaloupe commands a premium. In Austin or Houston, DeLeon cantaloupes
attract the buyers. I market mine on Watermelon Street in DeLeon. The
knowledgeable buyers chose my blackland melons over the local sandy land
melons. And that brings me to an amusing point.

Recently, a new buyer appeared on the street dressed in shorts, a loose
T-shirt and sandals. He strolled by the pickups loaded with watermelons
and cantaloupes and stopped at mine. We exchanged greetings and he told
me he needed a load of cantaloupes to sell in Austin. I cut him one to
sample; he liked it, so he bought the load. As we were pitching the
melons from my pickup to his, he commented, "I've got a question for
you. Does this fruit grow on a bush or on a tree?"

So abrupt and sincere was his question that I kept a straight face and,
juggling a seven-pound melon, answered, "Sir, it took a 30-foot ladder
to get to this honey."

And then there's the knowledgeable farmers. We were one of the first to
arrive with the Israeli melons, which really commanded a premium the
first year. I stripped my field with regular cantaloupes so anyone who
kept seeds from my melons would have a crossbreed. The next year the
street was full of crosses and a green melon called Israel melons, from
seed they ordered from a seed catalog.

The other day we loaded a reefer with watermelons bound for Miami, Fla.
I commented to the driver that it seemed a long way to haul watermelons
- that there should be melons close. His comment to me, "The melons
they're paying you 7 cents per pound are bringing them 29 cents per
pound" because they're from Texas and weigh over 50 pounds.

Back to the cantaloupes. Some identify the melons as to variety. Our
principle varieties are 450, Super 45 and Laguna. Yet some buyers still
ask, "Why don't you grow Pecos cantaloupes here?"

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jerry Hulsey is a former school teacher who writes for

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Copyright 1996 by Pecos Enterprise
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321

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