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'Sweetest' Rocky Ford melon crop in years is here

Rocky Ford Growers Association members send melons from field to store in about 24 hours.

ROCKY FORD, Colo. — It's officially melon season and growers in southeastern Colorado say the yield is the sweetest in recent memory.

Farmers of the Rocky Ford Growers Association (RFGA) just began harvesting the crop of cantaloupe, watermelon and honeydew.

The melon crop is already showing up on Front Range grocery store shelves, as RFGA member farms can send melons from field to store in about 24 hours.

The Rocky Ford region of Colorado is famous for its cantaloupe, watermelon, and honeydew melons. The hot days and cool nights along the Arkansas River stimulate the sugars in the melons, according to the RFGA.

"We're always excited about harvest but this year in particular, people are in for a real treat," said Michael Hirakata, President of the Rocky Ford Growers Assocation. "The weather cooperated perfectly, creating a sweet crop of cantaloupe and watermelon that really stuck out to our tastebuds!"

RFGA members are family-owned farms, several of which are operated by 5th and 6th generation farmers. RFGA said its members work together to coordinate planting so that the harvest stretches from mid-July through mid-September.

It's "the sweetest cantaloupe in recent years," said Hirakata.

Credit: Rocky Ford Growers Association

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