Sakata Seed America Unveils New Horizon Watermelon Varieties; Jeff Watkins and Anthony Cannon Comment
MORGAN HILL, CA - For suppliers, finding a product that performs well in the field and at retail is akin to choosing the winning lottery numbers—and Sakata Seed America is helping growers and buyers both hit the jackpot with the launch of its New Horizon watermelon varieties.
To get an idea of how this new collection will help its supply-side partners bolster yields and ROI as well as retail registers, I sat down with Jeff Watkins, Western Watermelon Product Manager, and Anthony Cannon, North Florida Area Sales Manager and East Coast Watermelon Product Manager at Sakata, to get a behind-the-scenes look at the high-quality offerings.
“All the new varieties from Sakata offer a darker, vibrant, crimson rind pattern with deep red internal flesh color,” explains Anthony. “The internal texture is very firm at 4 psi, and average sugars are at 12–13 percent Brix. Our new materials have an excellent flavor which makes for an enjoyable eating experience for consumers.”
As growers across the country face challenges such as unfavorable weather, low water supplies, labor shortages, increasing freight and materials costs, as well as disease and pest pressures, Sakata’s New Horizon lineup will help mitigate some of those issues through unique characteristics expertly crafted by Sakata’s breeding team, led by Sakata Watermelon Breeder, Dr. Nihat Guner.
“The varieties in the series have vigorous vines that produce an oval to blocky fruit shape that is very uniform and consistent throughout the harvest. Additionally, their excellent field holding capabilities can be attributed to firmer flesh. Sakata also offers concentrated sets, which allows growers excellent yield potential,” says Jeff. “Additionally, the varieties come with an excellent disease package, which is vital to growers throughout the country.”
With demand only increasing as summer kicks off here in the Northern Hemisphere, these new varieties are not only advantageous to suppliers, but buyers as well.
“The quality and taste of Sakata’s New Horizon watermelons will drive consumers to be repeat buyers,” continues Jeff. “If consumers like your product, they will ask for watermelons by label when they go shopping, and in turn, we want buyers to be calling suppliers to ask for Sakata varieties by name.”
Offering both vibrant flavors and appearance along with an extended shelf-life, the New Horizon varieties are also an ideal offering for the value-added sector.
“These new watermelons offer added benefits to the fresh-cut segment due to the dark contrast of the rind against the deep red flesh color,” comments Anthony. “Therefore, our new watermelons will stand out to consumers, whether they are displayed in a bin or on a produce cooler shelf.”
The New Horizon series of watermelons will become available to growers starting in fall 2021, just in time for planting season, and will feature three new varieties: El Capitan, a main-season variety with a 50/50 blend of 36 and 45 count fruit; Sierra Nevada, an early-to-mid-season variety with 70 percent 36 count fruit and 30 percent 45 count fruit; and Sierra Madre, an early and late season variety with predominantly 36 count watermelon.
Looking to get a leg up on next season’s summer supply of watermelons? Reach out to Sakata and become one of the first lucky growers to harvest these unique varieties.