“The real advantage to these melon varieties is that they are more drought resistant because they root deeper into soils. Where a cantaloupe reaches a couple of inches into the soil for moisture, some of these new varieties will burrow much deeper. This means less irrigation,” Crosby adds.

And he says it’s not only the better drought resistant properties of these specialty melons but also their adaptability to multiple soil types that can make them more attractive to growers across the state.

“The number of melon producers in the Trans-Pecos region has greatly diminished over the years and these new varieties offer a good alternative because of their resistance to drought, and they also show promise of working well with the sandy loam soils of the Central Hill Country and the sand and clay mix of Valley soils. Overall they will provide a heartier product for growers,” Crosby says.

But he warns growers with smaller operations will be the most likely to convert to new varieties, saying larger producers will want to measure how well these crops are accepted by consumers before making big changes.

“Specialty melons are proving to be very attractive to West Coast consumers and we’re seeing a viable market for these types of products in other areas as well. These new melons can be larger and provide a sweet taste that is desirable,” Laskovar says.

Researchers say nearly 15 percent of Texas melon production is dedicated to honeydew melons, and that broad acceptance of this type of melon in recent years is encouraging as it indicates consumer willingness to try new varieties. And that, they say, will determine how well specialty melons as a primary crop will be appeal to Texas growers in the years ahead.