Pepino melons are juicy, delicious fruit. Over the years, the demand for the fruit has increased rapidly, mainly due to its many health benefits and extensive use in value addition. With competitive prices in both the local and export markets, Pepino melon is the type of crop that you should grow. They are easy to plant, maintain, harvest, and market. Currently, Europe offers the best opportunities for Pepino melon and other exotic fruits. To enjoy the profitability of Pepino farming, you need to embrace sustainable farming practices, proper harvesting and post-harvest handling, and unique marketing strategies.
- What are the health benefits of Pepino Melon?
Pepino melon has many health benefits, such as:
- They are rich in vitamins, dietary fiber, and phytonutrients
- They contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that help prevent cancers and the skin.
- They have low-calorie content.
- Pepino melon contains fiber which enhances digestion and lowers cholesterol.
- Yellow-fleshed fruits contain phenolic compounds which help in protecting the retina.
- Planting and management
Pepino grows well in deep, well-drained soils with a pH of 6.5 to 7.5. They require moderate rainfall and a temperature range of between 12°C-24°C. Relatively high temperatures affect production.
Plant the cuttings at a spacing of 2-3ft. The plants grow vigorously and should be supported to stabilize the bush, which grows to a height of about 1.5m. Devise a timely irrigation and feeding program to provide your plants with adequate moisture and nutrients. You should apply well-decomposed manure regularly. Synthetic fertilizers should be used sparingly when necessary. Also, to keep the plants healthy, you need to embrace an effective pest and disease control program. Pepino melons are attacked by pests such as flea beetles, spider mites, leaf miners, hornworms, cutworms, and Colorado potato beetle. They are susceptible to diseases such as anthracnose, blights, and bacterial spot.
- Harvesting and Post harvesting
The plants grow vigorously and bear fruits within 5 to 6 months. However, all the fruits do not mature at the same time. You should only harvest completely mature fruits with high sugar content and flavor. Don’t be tempted to harvest immature fruits since they have not yet acquired the optimum sugar content. Pepino melon fruits have a short shelf life of 4 to 6 days, although they can stay for several weeks when refrigerated.
Pepino melon is a sweet and juicy fruit with a high demand locally, especially in urban centers, supermarkets, hotels, and processing companies. Besides, the demand is high in open-air markets, groceries, juice making hubs, and high-end restaurants. In the export market, the demand is highest in Japan and Europe. The United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, and Belgium import the largest volumes.
To obtain a competitive advantage in the local and export markets, you should maintain unique features such as appearance, high quality, and taste of the fruits. Ensure that you produce fruits at specific periods when competition is lower, especially when targeting export markets.
To earn more revenue from Pepino melon, farmers should consider investing in value addition. Unripened Pepino fruits baked like a squash. They can also be used as an ingredient in sorbets, juices, beverages, salads, jams, and jellies.